By Adi Redzic

June is the Pride Month for millions of people, and it got me thinking … celebrating who we are unequivocally and proudly comes with a loud statement: I deserve to be happy.

Have you ever sabotaged your relationships or other opportunities in life because you, deep down, didn’t feel you deserved it—didn’t deserve happiness? You told yourself, “It wouldn’t work out?”

I know I’ve been there.

A lot of our culture has been built around the ideas that we are sinners (e.g. I have to work to be good), lesser than, and not good enough unless we fall into a particular “mold”.

For example, the concept of a “nuclear family” emerged post World War II, so we chase it even if it doesn’t always make sense. The term “homosexuality” in the Bible was translated as such only in the last several decades (the actual Greek “arsenokoitai” refers to boy molestation, not homosexual love), yet 1 in 5 gay people attempts suicide out of shame. Working 8-5 is also another very modern conception, yet millions are far more productive at different times of the day and can contribute to our society in myriad other ways. Standardized testing, another of my favorites, rules our so many brilliant people whose minds works differently, yet we measure intelligence by it. Nothing to say of the patriarchal norms that have suffocated women AND men through artificial roles for a millennia. Examples abound.

The issue with these “models” is that very few people benefit from them, because the very premise is that unless we are a certain way, and most are not one way, we are not good enough.

Good enough according to whom?

Yet, we try, we try so hard to fit in even when doing so sabotages our life, and our happiness.

It’s no wonder more than 80% of Americans report deep loneliness with over 10 million people calling customer service numbers to be heard and to talk to someone in an honest, authentic way.

We are creative beings and drawing inside the box stifles the very nature of our being. Look around: nature is beautiful, bold, diverse, and rich — worthy of God having created it.

Our life is meant for so much more than reacting to the artificial norms.

So, let’s not.

Let’s stop.

Stop pretending. Stop playing according to the outdated rules. Stop chasing approval.

Let’s get real instead.

Let’s embrace life.

Let’s be free.

We are born good and meant to shine, therefore settling ourselves for a life of chasing the approval of society (ie social norms, family, etc.) or simply going through the motions robs us of the very essence of life.

It robs us of bliss.

And of deep love.

Whoever you are, wherever you come from, whomever you love, I pray that you come out of your own cocoon — and I don’t mean only your sexuality or gender expression, but in every way — for you’re beautiful and are meant to fly.

Have the courage to live an undivided life, do not reject parts of yourself out of self hatred, a belief (that someone else taught you) that you’re not good enough or deserving of happiness, or out of fear that some might not love you for it. Why should you be OK with being loved only partly?

Take the time to find yourself and work to embrace your true nature — the nature of loving kindness and joy.

You deserve all the happiness of this world and you deserve love.

Own it.

Be proud of it.

Today and always!