“I’m just Jessie.”

That was how I introduced myself to a room full of women, “I’m just Jessie.” They all laughed, thinking I was kidding. Surely there must be something more. There wasn’t. Not having anything else to say, I sat back down. It wasn’t until a few years later that I looked back on this experience and thought of it as more than just a funny introduction. Now I see it as a way of accepting myself. I’m just me.

As we grow up we’re constantly told by family, friends, peers, mentors, and media to do more, to be more. Be more assertive. Do better in school. Be more positive. Do more work. Be more, do more, be more, do more, be more, do more. It’s exhausting. We get to the point where we feel like we’ll never measure up, and soon we start to convince ourselves we never can. We start to use “I’m too” and “I’m not” statements.

I’m too fat. I’m too nice. I’m too aggressive. I’m too short. I’m too tall. I’m too shallow. I’m too skinny. I’m too sensitive. I’m too needy. I’m too ugly. I’m too selfish. I’m too weak. I’m too _______. I’m not smart enough. I’m not good enough. I’m not skinny enough. I’m not pretty enough. I’m not strong enough. I’m not happy enough. I’m not kind enough. I’m not _______. I’m not enough.

The list goes on and on. We do this to ourselves constantly. We define ourselves by the things we can and can’t do. The things we do and do not like; things we have and haven’t done. We compare ourselves to others, either lifting ourselves up or putting ourselves down. Instead of thinking about all the things you’re not, think of all the things you are. The things that make you, you. You are made up of a million different pieces. Not all pieces are good and not all are bad. They’re just different. Don’t let one piece determine how you view yourself. You decide who you are and who you will be.

I’m not saying that we need to accept our flaws and never change. I’m saying that we need to accept ourselves. I’m a big advocate of progressing in life. But right now, I just want to let everyone know that it’s okay to just be you. What makes you, you? If you have to choose one word to describe yourself, let that word be “me.”

Hi. I’m just Jessie. And I’m just me.