Comfortable in Our Own Skin | Opinion

Photo via Pixabay.

It can take a lifetime to feel that we’re finally in our own skin; that we’ve comfortably grown into the person we imagined ourselves being. Some people feel fully at ease with themselves early in life, but I think that’s uncommon. One important contributing factor is whether we care about what others think of us, both while we’re living and after we’ve passed on.

My husband, Ray, has been free of that concern for decades and has enjoyed a life of confidence but not of superiority. When we quit caring about what other people think of us, we don’t compete with them, and we take no satisfaction in our being more at peace than them.

Competition can be fun, such as in cards or in having your book made into a movie. But the fun is taken out of the win if we’re aware and content that it makes someone else feel less than us. I was aware of competition with others when colleges or corporations were deciding which speaker to invite in to talk about LGBTQ issues. I enjoyed being highly thought of, but it was never for me a case of “winners” or “losers.” I gladly mentored people who I knew were competing with me and would eventually take my place.

Bill Konigsberg and I talked recently about our gratitude for the privilege of being in a position to help others. He’s done so with his many successful young adult novels in which the protagonist is gay. He has another upcoming meeting with a Hollywood team about the possibility of one of his books becoming a movie. But as my biweekly podcast asks, “Are You Happy Without the Movie?”, if the movie never happens, is he still fully satisfied?

Bill asked for an update on my book Sex Campbeing made into a series, because not long ago, a successful transgender screenwriter and producer loved the concept of the book. But the screenwriter’s interest waned, and I readily accepted that I’m still quite content without the movie.

When Bill and I talked, I suggested that he keep his expectations in check, and he agreed. If a movie is made of one of his books, it won’t create a lasting happiness if he’s not in his own skin. If we compare or compete, we’ll never be at peace because the ego has an insatiable appetite. 

Being in your own skin is about self-acceptance and gratitude. It’s about not wanting or needing more. We might think it’s about self-knowledge, but such awareness doesn’t mean we’ll be at peace with ourselves or the world around us. Self-knowledge requires humility, and loving kindness if it’s to be enjoyed. 

It always cheers me to see or hear that someone has found contentedness with themselves. We’re bombarded from birth onward with input on whom we should be. In order to be in our own skin, we need to step away from those expectations of others.


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