you’re the only you you’ve got

There are a lot of things I wish I could change about myself. I’d rather be shorter and get to dress up in cute 4-inch heels than be 5′ 8″. It would be excellent if my hair were naturally straight so I didn’t have to deal with butt-numbing Japanese straightening every six months (which takes over five hours, by the way). And if my circadian rhythm enjoyed mornings, it would make life much easier.

It’s not just me. Everyone I know wants to change part of who they are. That whole wanting-what-you-don’t-have tendency is pretty universal. But here’s the thing. You only get one you. If there’s something about yourself that you want to improve and you can improve it, now’s the time. What are you waiting for? Oh, that? Don’t wait for that. Because while you’re waiting, life is happening. And that thing you’re unhappy about will just keep being an energy drain. What can you do, starting right now, to change one thing that’s making you unhappy?

Of course, there are plenty of things we don’t like that we can’t change. What can we do about those? Not much, really. But our attitude can change. We can accept those things and learn to live with them in a more positive way. Like how I get car sick. I hate that I have to take Bonine (which is like Dramamine, but doesn’t make me feel like I’m about to enter a comatose state) even for the shortest car ride. Good thing I hardly ever ride in cars. I’ve had this problem forever. My motion sickness is the result of an inner ear imbalance. That girl having a crying fit in second grade gym because she couldn’t walk across the balance beam like all the other girls? Yep, that was me! It’s amazing that I remember it at all, given how I’ve blocked out most of my school-related trauma. I was just quivering on one end of the beam, clinging to my gym teacher’s shirt and bawling hysterically.

Balance has always been a problem. Same with fighting not to throw up in cabs whenever I’m forced to take one. Which thankfully is not often.

What else is wrong with me? Oh yeah, I don’t know how to swim. I remember this time at day camp when I was five or six. We were all sitting by the pool and the counselor asked if any of us knew how to swim. For some wild reason, I raised my hand. She called on me to demonstrate swimming. So I got up, walked to the pool stairs, and started walking down them. And kept going. The next thing I remember, I was standing on the pool floor, completely underwater. I saw the counselor’s legs moving toward me before she yanked me up.

Ah, memories.

The swimming issue is one I can resolve. I don’t hate not being able to swim enough to join that class of five-year-olds at the Y, though. Instead, I turned my lack of skills into something positive. It’s what inspired Lani learning how to swim in Something Like Fate. As for the things I can’t change, I’m trying to be more positive about them. Because if I don’t accept myself, I can’t expect anyone else to.

Oh, and the whole wanting-what-you-don’t-have thing? I’ve found that usually, the things you want the most are the things you already have. Take another look around. You might be surprised.

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18 thoughts on “you’re the only you you’ve got

  1. I would love to be your height (I’m 5 feet tall). Wearing high heels isn’t an option for me because of feet/back issues, so I’m used to wearing flats and orthopedic-type shoes. My hair is naturally wavy, I would never straighten it. Maybe you don’t need to straighten yours any longer either. Just a thought!

    • Your hair sounds pretty. If my hair were only wavy, I’d probably leave it alone. Sadly, it is scary curly/frizzy/outrageous. I’m so thankful I don’t have to spend half an hour struggling with it every morning anymore!

  2. Totally agree on the hair thing! I would LOVE if my hair were just pin straight and that I wouldn’t have to straighten it every time I wanted it to look decent(my hair is wavy)
    It’s funny though, because if I somehow DID have magic powers and could make it permanently straight, I feel like I would miss my usual routine of doing my hair(as much as I can’t stand it!).It’s part of me, and it totally goes along with what you said about learning to accept things about you, because there IS only one of us.In this sense, I accept this about me.Very inspirational!!Thanks for another great post=]
    -Big fan of you!
    http://www.facebook.com/?ref=home#!/vanessa.chiriboga

  3. I really like this post. Everyone has something that they want to change about themselves. For instance, I totally wish I was your height. I’d love to be 5’8″ but as you said, the things we really want most of the time we already have. I also can’t swim, which can be solved..I just haven’t quite tackled that problem yet. Overall, I just really like this entry and also I’m a big fan of your books!

  4. I used to get my hair Japanese straightened back when I was in high school! It does take a long time!
    I get motion sick too! Last week, I endured a ride from Pennsylvania to North Carolina, and I was definitely comatose from Dramamine. We’d stop for a restroom break and I’d be walking around in the biggest fog! I’ve never tried Bonine!

  5. šŸ™‚
    Not only do I completely agree with the idea of people accepting themselves, I also don’t know how to swim. So I really love this blog post! šŸ™‚

  6. there is only one me
    that must be one of those things everyone has in common, even though everyone is so different. I like how i want to change my name when I’m older back i met about almost a dozen people who have a name like mine or have my name. but at the same time i don’t think i will change it, it will be too confusing. but there are also things people like about themselves too. LIke for instance I like the fact i keep trying when it comes to writing, and my friends like it when i’m helpful for them, so that’s a plus. šŸ™‚ What made you decide to post about something like this susane? it’s something that got my thinking. šŸ™‚

    • Re: there is only one me
      This was one of those blog posts I totally didn’t plan. The idea suddenly struck me and I just started writing. I’m happy that people are relating – I wasn’t sure if anyone would like it.

  7. I didn’t know you had the inner ear thing! I get headaches in the car, so I can’t read, but it’s not NEARLY as intense as what you describe. I see why New York is the perfect place for you in that sense. Most other places, you have to drive!
    I had swimming lessons, but I hated them with a passion. They were scary to me.
    People need to be reminded that they are able to be proactive and innovative. Great post!
    P.S. Unrelated, but I got the Jeff Herman book that Meg Cabot (and everyone else) recommended. You pointed me towards the post, so thank you. šŸ™‚

      • Well, that is sad. Roller coasters – for most people – are so much fun! For me it’s the Tilt-A-Whirl and other rides that spin that I have to skip. I would think they were fun if it weren’t for my car sickness, but those really do make me nauseous. Yet surprisingly, I can totally do roller coasters!

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