ART BY TIFFANY CHAN
By SIMONE YU
“I’m selfish, impatient and a little insecure. I make mistakes, I am out of control and at times hard to handle. But if you can’t handle me at my worst, then you sure don’t deserve me at my best,” Marilyn Monroe once said.
It is true that everyone has his or her own flaws. Especially with our loved ones, such as a significant other, sibling or close friends, it is common courtesy to accept them despite their weaknesses.
However, it is also absolutely unacceptable to expect your loved ones to endure your “worst” in order to deserve your “best.” Our worst traits should not be overlooked in the title of “love,” but instead should be confronted and addressed for the betterment of ourselves.
Firstly, it is not moral to expect the loved ones in your life to deal with your “worst.” While the worst personality traits are pretty common and labeled as “bad habits,” the people who simply “accept” your worst traits are not doing it for the sake of love; they are forced into a corner to tolerate the individual they care deeply for when they are not willing to leave him or her. And yet, when your loved ones leave because of your ensnaring toxicity, we perceive it as betrayal. In fact, they did not leave because they could not handle you; they left because they recognize it is not their responsibility to handle you.
Furthermore, the people in your life should not be content putting up with your bad traits, just for the slight chance that one day they could “deserve you at your best.”
Ultimately, does our “best” really make up for, or cover up, our “worst?”
The short answer is NO. Nobody should have to put up with your worst—least of all your loved ones, who are there to support you and your future.
Rather, the only way that these traits can be “handled” is by yourself. The onus is on you to change your own behavior and attitude instead of thrusting your bad behavior onto others and expecting immediate acceptance, because your loved ones are supposed to bring out the best in you, not accept the worst.
Contrarily, you may simply respond, “I just want to find someone who will accept me for who I am, no matter what.” But what is the point of just being “accepted” when you can improve and be the best version of yourself? Although people in healthy relationships are overall loving towards each other, there are also challenges, annoyances and fights carefully laced in each loving relationship, and just being accepted by someone will not last in the long run.
Speaking from personal experience, I was wildly naive and disobedient for a period of time in junior high. I did not like to share; I resented others who challenged my ideas, people who asked to borrow my items or even just ask for a piece of gum. It was when I was at my worst that I brought out the most negative parts of myself and shut out the positive. And during this period, my friends and loved ones started to drift away, which drove me to blame others for not “accepting me for who I was.”
One morning, I looked in the mirror and realized that I had bathed in my own self-pity and negativity for so long, blaming others for inciting the negative parts of myself, when the problem was staring at me. I slowly amended my behavior, and little by little my negative traits crumbled away.
Furthermore, with the support of my family and friends, I was able to become my best self.
Soon after, the people who had drifted away started to come back into my life, and I realized that it was actually me who had “drifted off” from my loved ones in the beginning.
The dictionary definition of “accept” is to “receive with approval or favor; to agree or consent.” And our loved ones certainly do not deserve to “consent” to our selfishness, impatience or arrogance. Moreover, life is not about gaining acceptance from others; it is about change and growth and learning. In failing to change, we fail to live.
On the other hand, our loved ones should not scoff and say, “change and handle it yourself.” Those who truly and profoundly love us challenge and motivate us to change our “bad habits.” And it is up to us to change for ourselves as well as the important people in our life.
Ultimately, do not ask others to accept the bad parts of yourself; instead, strive to improve those parts and make yourself worthy of the love many have offered you. And while Monroe’s advice may sound appealing, a better mindset is “You were with me at my worst so I want to give you my best.”