Too often, it seems, so many of us focus on the things we aren't: pretty, successful, slim, confident, popular, erudite, bold. We hold ourselves up to amorphous and unattainable standards, and use these as a stick to flagellate ourselves, as if that will somehow spur us to attain greatness. We do not live for ourselves, but live for how we believe others see us, always wondering how to alter ourselves to match the expectations of a larger society that treats people like a fungible commodity. This yolk upon our soul drags us down, makes us believe that our worth is measured in pennies, not as the priceless thing it is. We willingly buy into this, assuming that this is how it is meant to be or just how it is.
This, of course, is nonsense.
You must accept that you are a human being. Who you are and what you are is a result of the genetic material donated by your parents, the circumstances of your upbringing, and the events of your maturity and your entry into human society. This makes you no different than anyone else.
You are one of billions, but you are unique – you are the only you there is. You are one sun in a galaxy of stars; you bring life to your home and combine with all the others to fill the universe with light and beauty.
Your life is yours. It is the single most precious gift you are ever given. You must cherish it. Others must cherish it. Each and every one of us deserves the chance to live our life as we see fit, hand-in-hand with our brethren. We can all be different, yet live together as one.
You will succeed. You will fail. That makes you no different than anyone else. Those who claim never to fail, lie, for in doing so, they fail to be human. Those who claim to fail all the time, lie, for in doing so, they are not accepting their existence as proof of some success.
You must be happy, and to be happy, you must accept that you can be happy. Anyone can be. It does not take grandiose action, nor does it take millions of dollars, nor constant adulation from others. It takes the recognition that there is beauty and peace in the world, and that each short moment contains the seeds of happiness within it. Happiness can be a drop of water falling from the end of your nose, a lone ray of sunshine on a cold Winter's day, or watching butterflies flop around in the breeze. It can be as simple as the warmth of your body beneath the sheets, or as complicated as climbing a mountain. But it is there.
No one must judge you. You must not judge others. Not everyone is perfect. Perfection is an illusion – the laws of physics tell us it cannot be so. If others choose to define what perfection is, feel free to ignore it; they speak from ignorance and selfishness. You are who you are, and assuming you are a good person, there is nothing to judge. Only those who turn against society, who denigrate others for their own amusement, or cause society pain, should be judged, held to account for their negative actions.
No one can ever know us truly; we can never know anyone else thoroughly. To be happy in the company of others, you must accept that within them are things you may never know or understand, things that shape them, or haunt them, or mark them. No one is perfect, and you will have to forgive others their transgressions, where they do not cause you pain.
Some will see us as impediments, or belittle us, or treat us callously. They will bear the stain of their behavior – we need not. We cannot return the favor, for to do so validates their faulty view of humanity and stains our soul in the process. We should show them love, and leave it to them to accept or reject it, but we should never lower ourselves to their level.
We are not our gender, or skin color, or religion, or age, or education; we are ourselves, to be taken as such by all around us. To place us in any category for convenience or out of spite or hatred, is to deny our humanity.
No one is above us; no one is beneath us. The richest person and the poorest beggar are still human, and therefore equal, though they may not see that from their perspective. Others are only beneath or above us when we place them there.
We have one home – the Earth. We have nowhere else to go. We stand or fall as a species on this planet, until such time as we learn to spread our seeds amongst the stars. We owe it to ourselves, and to all life on Earth, to become better tenders and shepherds. There is a little something each of us can do to ensure our survival.
We must never accept that things are what they are, and cannot change. We should not have to change to meet the expectations of others, save where the change takes us from delusion and destruction to compassion and construction. Change is necessary and important, but some change goes beyond necessity to vanity, or from propriety to debauchery. If we are to change, if we need to change, then that change must take us in a positive direction, forward and not backward. Society is not successful where it attempts to relive the glories of the past, rather than meeting the challenges of the future. We must build ourselves up, for chaos will surely tear us down. The engine of positive change is fed by determination, desire, and the need cast light upon the darkness.