Socially Acceptable

Your value doesn’t decrease based on someone’s inability to see your worth. – Anonymous

It takes all of seven seconds for someone to form 13 opinions about you. Did you know that? I didn’t know that. No, really, it’s a thing; an actual scientific study. In seven seconds, every person you encounter will form various opinions about you from things like your level of intellect to your wealth and status to your morals to your trustworthiness. Who knew getting the once-over came with that much critiquing? Crazy. Daisy.

And yet, we live to be accepted. We’ve been hardwired that way. But our innate need goes way beyond the seven-second scrutiny. We crave approval, to be connected, to be in relationships (and not just the romantic kind either). We live to have others see us as spot on, fashionable, smart, funny…whatever society deems as the acceptable norm. We willingly jump through the social-requisite hoops just to gain admittance to the inner circle. And we do it for two reasons.

Fear of exclusion and fear of rejection.

These fears drive us, even from an early age, to fit in, to be one of the crowd; to not stick out like a sore thumb. And when those fears come to fruition, things go sideways in a hurry. Being excluded and rejected have dire consequences on us aside from just the psychological effects, like anxiety and depression, which are bad enough. Our health and well-being are adversely affected as well. It can manifest in things like eating disorders, sleep deprivation, being more sickly, premature death or suicide.

And not only do we suffer on a personal level from exclusion and rejection, society itself can suffer destructive repercussions, too. According to a study conducted by Nathan Dewall, a psychologist at the University of Kentucky, social acceptance is so essential to our well-being that a person who has been socially ousted may exact their vengeance through belligerence and acts of violence on an unsuspecting populous. Sadly enough, we only have watch the news to see what he means. And then we scratch our heads trying to understand why someone would resort to such behaviors.

 

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While most of us don’t resort to public outbursts or acts of violence, we do react when we have been sized up and found wanting in the eyes of others. We react by making desperate attempts to be liked and garner approval. We may alter our personality or physical appearance. We may alienate ourselves from healthy relationships with family or friends. We may take chances or participate in dangerous behavior. We may even risk our dignity for the sake of social acceptance.

Growing up, I remember being chastised by my peers because of my name, Ronny. “You can’t have that name; it’s a boy’s name!” they’d say and then taunt me with “Ronny-Ponny” like it was some kind of insult. They would act disgusted at the audacity of my having such a name (like I had any choice in the matter). I remember being angry with my mom for not naming me Sally instead. At one point, I even tried going by my middle name just to avoid ridicule.

I was also criticized for being an only child (again, like it was my choice). Peers and even adults labeled me as spoiled, selfish and unable to relate to others because of my onlyness (yes, I made that up). Clearly they assumed my lack of siblings somehow deprived me of having any social graces. Thus I was an outcast. As a result, I spent a great deal of my growing up being rejected and excluded because of how others perceived me.

So if our degree of social acceptance can be determined in as little as seven seconds, what are we to do when we want to be accepted on a deeper level? What can we possibly do to guarantee we’re part of the in-crowd? Honestly? Not one blessed thing. Nothing. Na.Da. We will never attain 100% approval of society. It’s flat-out impossible.

Why? Because it’s not only unrealistic, it’s unreasonable. We have to understand that we can’t make anyone like us anymore than they can make us like them. Just like those kids (and adults) who dismissed me for my name and onlyness, I had to learn I couldn’t change their opinions about me. The only thing I could do to was decide that I liked myself; that I was acceptable to me. (By the way, no offense to all you Sallies out there, but I’m glad my mom didn’t name me Sally; I happen to like my name; it’s suits. And for the record, I know plenty of people with siblings who are selfish, spoiled and unable to relate to others so it’s not sibling thing, it’s a heart thing).

We have no control over someone’s opinions save for one. Our own. And really that’s the only opinion that truly matters. I, you…we have to decide, accept and believe that we are enough. And while we may not be perfect, we have worth, and that worth can’t be based on the opinions of others.

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In the end, the whole idea of garnering social acceptance is a hollow and futile effort; a chasing after the wind so to speak because it’s a constant moving target, one that we can never truly hit. Oh sure, we may get close enough for horseshoes and hand grenades but too often the wind changes, the target moves and we’re on the outs again. Consequently we get looped into the never-ending cycle of rejection and exclusion.

We need to do ourselves a favor. We need to like ourselves. Better yet, love ourselves. We need to be comfortable in our own skin. We need to see our worth.  We need to believe in ourselves. We need to accept ourselves, and stop worrying about the opinions of others. (By the same token, we can’t do to others what they do to us; judge. It’s just not right).

Lastly, but most importantly, I want you to know that God accepts you. What’s more, God knows you’re enough. And He doesn’t just like you, He loves you….immensely. Of course He does; He created you! He made you to His exact specifications. There is no one else on the face of this earth that is exactly like you (or me). And if He’s for you, who can be against you?

So just to recap: love yourself; believe in yourself; know your worth; accept that you’re enough and know that God loves you and is for you!

If God is for us, who can be against us? Romans 8:31

So God created mankind in his own image, in the image of God he created them; male and female he created them. Genesis 1:27

For in the same way you judge others, you will be judged, and with measure you use, it will be measured to you. Matthew 7:2

For God so loved the world, that He gave His one and only Son, that whoever believes in Him will not perish but have everlasting life. John 3:16

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