Lessons in Acceptance

Accept (v): 1 to take or receive something offered with approval or favor, 2 to agree or consent to, 3 to respond to or answer affirmatively.

On paper, such a simple word with a straightforward set of definitions. In reality, the concept of acceptance is anything but. Good on paper, difficult in practice.

I have an incredible group of friends who are truly more than that, they’re my people. One of my people is married to an African American man. She’s white. Shortly after they got married, the comment was made, in hushed tones of course, “Did you know she’s married to a black man?” My reaction: “He’s black?” Legitimately, I was not being a smart ass. Alright, I was only half being a smart ass. It’s just that he’s not black to me, he’s one of my people.

My ex husband and I had a considerable age difference. I can’t even begin to tell you the comments that were made about that fact, to our faces no less. Cradle robbing, gold digging, daddy issues. My life hostage is older than me. When I told my therapist that, she joked, “What’s with the old men?” Then she proceeded to get beet red and apologize multiple times.

My future sister in law and I were in Crate & Barrel a few years back purchasing a gift for our Aunt and her wife, a ring dish that read Mrs & Mrs. The lady ringing us out looked both of us over several times before questioning, “This says Mrs & Mrs, you know that right? Surely this isn’t what you meant to pick up.” At which point we asked her to gift wrap it.

I could keep going but I don’t know that I have to. If you take five minutes, I’m sure you can easily come up with three examples of your own. Times when acceptance was lacking in a glaring way. For f-ks sake people! Anyone who knows me has heard me say a time or two that I can’t wait to be an old lady without a filter. But good grief I hope I still have enough marbles to remember basic human decency.

My married friends? Ridiculously happy even though their skin tones are not the same. My ex husband and I? We were in love minus cradle robbing, gold digging, and daddy issues. Just as my life hostage and I are now. And our two aunts? They cried when they realized they both get to use the title Mrs from now on.

Growing up in a Catholic grade school, I remember hearing on a regular basis the phrase, people who live in glass houses shouldn’t throw stones. As a child, I wasn’t always 100% sure what that meant or how to apply it. Now as an adult who witnesses what I view as atrocious acts of hypocrisy and disrespect regularly, I get it. Everyone has their own glass house. Don’t be knocking down mine and I won’t knock down yours, capeesh?

I’m not perfect. And for anyone who has read even one of my posts, you know I don’t profess to be. I am truly the definition of a hot mess and I’m damn proud of it. Life rolls me over and I get back up. Sometimes I kick life in the teeth and I float on air for a while. I don’t agree with every choice other people make. I don’t have to, it’s not my life. But I do speak the universal language that unites us all. I speak human.

Here’s the truth, it doesn’t matter what you think. That sounds harsh. And it’s meant to be. (And, frankly I don’t care – see that lack of filter I’m practicing?) But truly it doesn’t matter what you think. Every person is entitled to make their own decisions and live their own lives. And the only thing that matters is how you treat them, with respect and support. You don’t have to like their choices, you don’t have to live their choices, but you do have to treat them like human beings.

Rachel Olszewski

A hot mess held together on a daily basis by dry shampoo and probiotics, Rachel is still trying to figure out what she wants to be when she grows up but for now is a communications professional by trade. A true Chicagoan through and through, she is an East Coast transplant trying to set down roots. Although the height of her high heels may be getting shorter, Rachel’s expectations are not getting lower and she is on a mission to change the world one person at a time.


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