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The Ideal Self vs. the Real Self: Why We Need to Love Ourselves As We Are

I have recently been organizing my wardrobe, and there are few garments that I can don. This is not solely due to being out of shape and unable to fit into them. Many of the garments have not been acquired in a considerable time, and some of them still retain their tags.

I was unable to wear them upon purchase. The store had a larger size available, but no matter how I examined it, the smaller size appeared more aesthetically pleasing. Although it would be a bit snug and slightly constricting, lacking elegance, I could shed weight, slimming down by three pounds. With every predicament, I can embrace it as an opportunity for personal transformation, can’t I?

Then, as you are aware, I simply refrained from eating that night and subsequently feigned forgetfulness regarding the dress.

Therefore, my wardrobe is replete with drawers and shelves brimming with garments that are “suitable if three pounds are lost.”

I find it akin to a metaphor encapsulating my life. When faced with choices, I am inclined to consult not my present circumstances but rather my ideal self. For instance, during a past home renovation, I opted to place a tatami in the living room instead of a sofa. The height-adjustable table in the middle was convenient for writing. A neighbor visited and remarked that one cannot recline comfortably while watching television. I chuckled silently, thinking, isn’t that the very reason I refrain from watching TV? Wouldn’t it be preferable to read more books when granted the opportunity?

Consequently, that tatami needed to be flipped over, yet who possesses the time and energy to do so day after day? Subsequently, I sat at the small table in my bedroom and typed away.

It hasn’t prevented me from watching television. When the weekend arrives, all I desire is to recline and indulge in soap operas. The rigid tatami is not conducive to reclining, prompting me to purchase a cozy sofa and place it on the floor. Regrettably, the sofa can accommodate only one person, leading me to eventually reintroduce a sofa and position it in front of the tatami.

The modest space became filled with furniture, while the spacious tatami gathered clutter. My aspiration to live a simple and balanced life transformed into a more intricate and burdensome existence. I regarded what should be as reality. Though I dwell within a body constrained by human limitations, I planned my life based on an imagined ideal self.

I am not alone in this predicament. Once, I encountered a young woman whose pinky finger had never been graced by the touch of spring water and was perpetually cradled in the palms of her parents. One day, she unexpectedly fell in love with a man who was destitute yet driven, resembling Gao Jialin from the novel “Life.” However, this man possessed a greater sense of sobriety than Gao Jialin. From the outset, he informed her that they were ill-suited for each other. He hailed from a modest background and had a hectic work schedule, making him an unsuitable partner.

Nevertheless, the girl abruptly fell in love and vowed to transform herself. She even mentioned feeling a little intoxicated by the notion of being like Gao Jialin. Eventually, he took her to his hometown, and upon arrival, the girl burst into tears. Her tears were genuine, uncontrollable. She was cold (due to the absence of heating facilities), hungry (owing to poor sanitation and lack of sustenance), and it was her time of the month. She broke down, and the boy’s parents exchanged tearful glances. The scene was exceedingly awkward.

Initially, Huang Yaping must have believed that she was prepared for the various circumstances akin to those encountered by Gao Jialin. However, upon arrival, she realized that she was not the person she had envisioned, capable of sharing both joys and sorrows with him. It is not inherently wrong to be unable to endure hardship. The error lies in perceiving oneself as someone capable of withstanding it in the first place, only to ultimately harm both others and oneself.

They often say that we should love someone as they are. In truth, we should also extend the same love to ourselves, just as we are.