Last year, we were lucky to meet Kevin Schatell, an NBC page, during our Share Kindness event in New York where he was brave enough to share his story. We are excited for Kevin to share his experiences on the Born Brave Blog. Join Kevin by sharing your own story.
In 2011, when the Born This Way Foundation was created, I dreamed of working with the BTWF team in their mission to spread kindness. Well, here we are. That dream has finally come true, and now I have the honor to share what’s been stirring in my heart for the past six years.
The year 2011 was a crucial season of my life. I was finishing high school, applying to college, and beneath it all, coming to terms with being gay. My entire life, I could never muster up the courage to share that piece of myself with anyone. It wasn’t necessarily that I was afraid of being harassed or judged; what I was most afraid of was losing relationships with my dearest friends and family. What if the people I loved most just couldn’t find it in themselves to love me back…just for being me?
Around that time, a certain song was released that inspired a level of courage that I desperately needed. When Born This Way premiered and I heard Lady Gaga belt out the words “gay, straight, or bi, lesbian, transgendered life,” I felt proud. I felt included. I felt—in a way I’d never experienced—truly brave.
There are six words in that song that have had a deep impact on my life. They’re six words that I’ve reflected on for the past six years. And now, I want to dive into them with you because I believe they’re pivotal.
“Just love yourself and you’re set.”
I’ve repeated those words to myself more times than I can count. “Just love yourself and you’re set.” Being kind to other people is sometimes so much easier than being kind to ourselves…right? When someone else makes a mistake or feels insecure, it’s relatively easy to step in and show compassion. But when we ourselves make mistakes or feel insecure, it’s so difficult to show ourselves grace and love.
As I write this, I think about how many minutes of my life I’ve spent looking at myself through a lens of unkindness, wishing things were different. “I wish my body looked like that. If only I weighed this much. If I could just be more this, or less that…” It breaks my heart.
And that’s why Lady Gaga’s words are so important: “just love yourself and you’re set.” Imagine if we could change the tones of our inner dialogues to compassionate self-acceptance. What if we treated ourselves with kindness, even amidst our mistakes and perceived flaws? Then, our outward kindness would shine infinitely brighter.
Think about how much time that would free up to focus on other people. If we can slowly but steadily change our internal dialogues and make peace with ourselves, that would mean less time spent worrying about us and more time spent spreading love, acceptance, and kindness to others.
So how can we find that inner peace? I think the solution is also found in the lyrics of Born This Way:
“I’m beautiful in my way ‘cause God makes no mistakes.”
My faith is at the core of who I am, and I believe that God designed us exactly how we’re meant to be—every physical feature and personality trait crafted intentionally and perfectly. I’m going to continue reflecting on these lyrics and holding onto them as truth. “God makes no mistakes.” No matter what you believe, I hope we can all find peace that our lives have purpose, and we are perfect just the way we are.
I don’t want to spend another minute looking at myself wishing I were different. I want to spend my precious time in this world loving and serving others. And I really believe, if we can first and foremost love ourselves unconditionally, the kindness we share with others will be richer, brighter, and immeasurably more powerful.