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Every era has its own anxieties, problems, and constraints—and its own set of gurus promising a unique set of solutions and hopes, tailor-made to profit off of those.
Adjusted for inflation: housing is four times more expensive than it was a few decades ago. Health insurance. Food. Wages haven’t increased enough to keep up with the costs of these basic human rights. Financially, most Americans are a few paychecks away from oblivion. Ergo: the side hustle, the constant nagging feeling that you’re missing out by not monetizing that.
We’ve managed to find ourselves stuck in the swirling vortex of “hustle culture,” internalized capitalism, and an army of “Never Enough” self-development gurus who are all too ready to tell us that we’re perpetually falling short of our potential. They preach constant self-improvement, optimization, and the never-ending pursuit of success because we all feel like we’re barely keeping our heads above water.
Productivity gurus and influencers echo the idea that our worth is intrinsically tied to our productivity; even people like Cal Newport, who sings of “Slow Productivity” and digital minimalism, reinforce this idea.
Just remember: for every message you hear, someone is making money off of it. Everyone is selling something. And to make us want to buy or become something, we have to be fed the idea that we’re missing something or need to improve.
Let’s embrace self-acceptance as the greatest life hack.
The Battle of Self-Worth
Capitalism is an infinitely hungry beast that feeds off of our sense of lack, that thrives on making us believe we’re never quite enough. There’s always another milestone to achieve, another project to undertake, another thing to acquire, another version of ourselves that we should be striving towards.
This constant striving, however, creates a cycle of discontent, a nagging feeling of inadequacy that keeps us hooked on the productivity hamster wheel. The result? Burnout, stress, and a continuous state of chasing a life that always seems to be just out of reach.
Self-improvement isn’t inherently bad. Fewer things are more satisfying than pushing our limits, and stretching ourselves beyond our comfort zones.
But is your desire to strive fueled by internalized inferiority? By a need to prove yourself to an emotionally withholding caregiver? By a need to prove to those people who shunned you in grade school just how wrong they were?
The flip side of receiving constant unsolicited advice is the internalization of what is implied: you’re doing it wrong. You’re flawed.
What, then, are we to believe of the ambient cultural noise of constant self-improvement? When we buy into the belief that happiness and self-worth are on the other side of achieving more, doing more, being more?
The Revolutionary Act of Self-Acceptance
That’s where self-acceptance comes into play. In a world fixated on relentless hustle, accepting ourselves as we are can feel like a rebellious act. It challenges the notion that our worth lies in our output. It asserts that we are already enough just as we are, with all our imperfections, shortcomings, and idiosyncrasies.
Self-acceptance isn’t about complacency or navel-gazing. It’s about acknowledging our true selves, warts and all, and loving ourselves despite (and because of) them. It’s about finding the courage to say, “This is me, and I am okay with who I am.”
Yes, self-acceptance be a life hack. It may be the biggest one of our era.
Well, imagine the mental and emotional energy you’d save if you weren’t constantly second-guessing yourself, berating yourself for not doing more, not being more. Imagine the joy of doing things not because they add to your ‘value’, but because they genuinely bring you joy, satisfaction, or simply some peace of mind. That’s the power of self-acceptance.
When you’re not perpetually striving to meet impossible standards, you’ll find your stress and anxiety levels decreasing.
Accepting and loving yourself as you are can lead to better self-esteem, improved body image, and overall better mental health.
When you’re comfortable with who you are, you invite others to be comfortable with themselves around you. This authenticity can lead to deeper, more fulfilling relationships.
Imagine if you didn’t second-guess everything. If you weren’t constantly thinking about the opinions of others. If you felt impervious to their whims. If you felt strong enough to do exactly what you wanted to do.
Do you realize how much you’ve internalized negative self-talk?
Beginning the Rebellion of Self-Acceptance
It’s easy to do something if everyone else is doing it. We often don’t realize how much the people around us shape our behavior. So imagine how you feel when everyone around you is dieting, trying to make more money, trying to get up earlier and get leaner and fitter, complaining that they don’t have enough. Insecure because they don’t have enough.
These constant criticisms, even when they aren’t directed towards you, get under our skin. They normalize criticism and self-doubt. They normalize the idea that we have to be better.
They feed into capitalism, into the idea that we need new shoes and shiny new things, into the absurd inequality in wealth that allows 10 people to hoard 6 times more money than 3 billion people combined.
That discomfort that you feel in your own skin is merely a sign that capitalism is working.
Normalizing the big, grand shifts in attitude that are required for any meaningful social change to take place requires fully accepting yourself. The stretch marks, the wrinkles, the meager savings account, the roommates, the unpaid bills, the dashed dreams, the failures, the fact that you never did that thing and feel like it’s too late to do it… all of these are fine.
You don’t need any new habits. You don’t need to buy anything, take any course.
You just need to learn to love yourself, as you are.
Repeat after me: the fact that it’s hard to accept yourself, as-is, is just a sign that capitalism has been doing its thing to your mind, to your environment, to the people in your life, for decades.
Leaning into the inevitable personal discomfort of fully accepting yourself is the first step in radical social movements.
Embrace your strengths; don’t feel the need to hide your flaws. Don’t feel like you’re a snowflake for being sensitive, in need of toughening up. Validate your feelings, whether they’re positive or negative. Learn to differentiate between what you do and who you are – they’re not the same thing.
Start by saying no to things that don’t serve you, and yes to things that bring you joy and contentment. Slow down, disconnect from the noise of productivity, and take time to really listen to yourself.
Give yourself permission to be imperfect, to make mistakes, to not have it all together. Forgive yourself for your past and allow yourself to just be.
The greatest rebellion in a world obsessed with hustle culture, that profits off of our discomfort, that constantly advertises that we’re all in need of perpetual self-improvement, is simple: self-acceptance. It’s a bold stand against the internalized capitalism that has us constantly chasing after the endless ‘more.’
It’s the affirmation that we are enough, as we are, where we are. It’s a life hack that not only brings peace of mind but can fundamentally shift our perspective towards a more balanced, fulfilled life.
So, my fellow rebel, are you ready to embrace the greatest life hack of self-acceptance? It’s time to break free from the chains of “Never Enough” and step into the liberating embrace of “I am enough.”
I am fine.
I am complete.
I don’t need to buy anything.
I love myself just as I am.
That’s all it takes to start this rebellion. Today.