The key to accepting yourself lies in challenging cultural norms and “acceptable” ways of living. For example, it’s not popular, in American culture, to live extremely simply. But what if a simple life is what you want? What if you don’t really care about things like becoming an executive manager or wearing makeup or having a big house or posting fifty times a day to your social media accounts? If these things aren’t a part of who you are, it’s not likely that you’ll pursue them with all your heart, and so of course there are going to be people who do it better than you. That’s their calling.

But the calling of others is not necessarily your own. Ask the important questions—what is the best way to live, according to you? Who makes the rules? Why do I care? Don’t just treat these questions as rhetorical. Write the answers down or journal about them—do anything that forces you to really confront them. Challenge your own conformity, because it is that attempt at conformity that is assaulting your sense of self-esteem.

Once you find the answers to these questions, you’ll be that much closer to knowing You. And to know You is to love You. It’s only in the success of this this one, central relationship that you’ll find a true respite from loneliness.

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