Kit Steinkellner
July 29, 2014 6:00 am

It can be a cruel world out there. Sometimes, you’ve really got to push the haters (or the haters in your brain) aside, and stand up for yourself. And other times, it just helps to be reminded you’re awesome. Allow us to provide that reminder. We think you’re awesome and you should never let anyone or anything shame you for feeling, thinking and being all the things that make you so wonderfully you. But let’s get more specific. Here’s a brief list of some things you should never, ever be ashamed of, no matter what.

1. Loving Cute Animals

“I love puppies, so what?” And with that, our very own Zooey Deschanel told the world that there’s no shame in loving the most adorable creatures on earth, even if people give you a hard time about it. No one should be ashamed of straight up being obsessed with puppies or kitties or just cute animals in general. Yes, watching all those videos on YouTube is technically a time-waster, but it’s a time-waster that can make a terrible day just a tiny bit better, so get down with your tiny-animal-loving bad self.

2. Our Bodies

The reason that scene from Mean Girls (where the Plastics stand in front of the full-length mirror worrying about their large pores and man shoulders) has become so iconic is because this rings true for so many girls. We spend too much time worrying about breakouts and body mass index and way too little time being thankful for the billion and one things our body does every day to keep us alive.

3. Our Crazy-Making Families

It is a truth universally acknowledged that everyone’s family is embarrassing. Even if you are blessed with a functional family, your family as individuals (and as a group) are still going to do things that drive you up the wall. It’s the price you pay for the privilege of getting to love people your whole life long.

4. Obsession With Celebrity Culture

Yes, it is super weird to closely follow the lives of people you have never met and most likely will never meet. But it’s also SUPER fun. Celebrities have glamorous lives and it’s a good time living through the glitz vicariously. So don’t be ashamed if you’re constantly refreshing “Tom and Lorenzo” to see red carpet updates. That’s like the story of my life.

5. Junior High Photos

If you have super cute junior high photos where your hair is perfect and everything you’re wearing is amaze, you can skip this and proceed. If you have the WORST junior high pictures (or just regular bad), don’t stress! Your bedhead-to-end-all-other-bedheads and fake skater/surfer/snowboarder poser clothes were just a step along the way to you becoming yourself. This is what I have to tell myself every time those Polaroids emerge from the depths of my mom’s photo albums.

6. Unpopular Beliefs

It sucks being a vegan in a meat-eating family, or the only religious person in your secular friend group. No one likes feeling like the odd duck out. But you believe what you believe for a reason. As that song they play during the credits of Mulan says, “you have to be true to your heart.”

7. Crying

There are so many crying-related things you might feel ashamed of—crying in the first place, who you’re crying in front of, what you’re crying about, the fact that you are hands down the ugliest crier on Planet Earth. But crying means you’re human, one who’s in touch with her feelings and feels things deeply. And anyone who’s going to judge you harshly for that clearly doesn’t get what this being alive thing is all about.

8. Our Messiness (OR Neat Freak-iness)

I am always apologizing for being a slob and making excuses for myself (“It’s not like I leave FOOD around everywhere. . . just clothing”), but I have friends that apologize just as profusely for their neat-freakiness. We’re all comfortable in different environments and as long as you have the ecosystem of your living sitch worked out with your roomies/housemates, no apologies are necessary.

9. Reality Television Addiction

You love Master Chef. And The Bachelor. And RuPaul’s Drag Race. It’s OK. There are anthropological lessons to be learned from reality television. Plus it’s your free time. You do what you have to do to be able to go to sleep and deal with the world the next day.

10. Exes

You are NOT the only one who is embarrassed about the people you dated in yesteryear. We former girlfriends who are like “Why did we dooooo that????” we are legion. But let’s stop being embarrassed, because our exes taught us valuable lessons re: who we are as people and what we want out of a romantic relationship. They may have broken our hearts, but that heartbreak WASN’T for nothing.

11. Mistakes We Made A Long Time Ago

Everyone has regrets. “I shouldn’t have said/done that,” “I should have worked harder,” “I should have dreamed bigger,” “I should have gotten out of that bad situation SO much sooner.” But until time machines are invented and until we know for certain that we can go back in time without stepping on a butterfly and ruining everything, we are just going to have to deal with the fact that our past is set in stone. Whatever you have to forgive yourself for, forgive yourself for it. Then work your ass off to make your future as awesome as possible.

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