There are many times in life when we may look to others for acceptance; from friends, family, coworkers, society, whomever. This search for acceptance is something that reigns especially true for those in minority groups. LGBT+ individuals look to family & friends for acceptance of their identity, disabled folks look again to family & friends, as well as medical professions, to accept their disabilities and perhaps find ways to aid them, BIPOC individuals look to society to accept them for their culture and ethnicity in a systemically whitewashed world, the list goes on.
We all want to feel understood, to feel like we belong; but the act of searching for acceptance is something that, in and of itself, is exclusionary from the very beginning.
By searching for acceptance in other people we create an automatic hierarchy that places us in the negative. Wanting someone, or needing someone, to accept your life or your choices means that you have already given that person power. You have said, “you are more powerful than me and therefore I require your acceptance.”.
Now don’t get me wrong, we all want to feel understood, to feel like we belong, to feel like the people around us understand we are going through or have been through; but wanting to be understood, and wanting to be accepted, are two very different things.
Wanting to be understood does not place the other person on a pedestal wherein you are requiring some sort of arbitrary blessing from them to go on with your life, in the same way, that wanting to be accepted does.
To me, the phrase, “I accept you.” is not a compliment or a heartwarming phrase, because you have already placed yourself in a position where you have the ability to bestow or withhold your acceptance from me.
I understand the French language, but I do not “accept” the French language; to say something like that would be foolish. You do not require acceptance from others in the same way that the French language does not require your acceptance of it to continue being the French language; it simply is.
You simply are. Your existence, your life, is knit together by your identity, the decisions you make, the people you befriend, etc. etc., but none of these requires someone’s acceptance to continue being.
You are a human being; you are not a slot machine waiting to accept people’s coins.