The Poetry of Self-Acceptance: The Not Poem by Erin Hanson

Who you were before society told you who you should be? The poem ‘Not’ by Erin Hanson is a reminder for us to find our way back to our true selves.

By Jenny Dsouza ~

Not by Erin Hanson 2 1

Poetry is beautiful. It’s an art of articulating words in verses of rhyme and blank. It is a form of art that stirs and inspires us all. Words can be powerful in any form but especially when it’s in the form of poetry. The most beautiful part of this form of art is that it doesn’t discriminate between race, gender, or people of different ages. It only speaks one language, the language of art. The poem – ‘Not’ by Erin Hanson is a beautiful representation of this message and a poem that has stirred the hearts of millions. 

The Not Poem by Erin Hanson

You are not your age, nor the size of clothes you wear,
You are not a weight, or the color of your hair.
You are not your name, or the dimples in your cheeks.
You are all the books you read, and all the words you speak.
You are your croaky morning voice, and the smiles you try to hide.
You're the sweetness in your laughter, and every tear you've cried.
You're the songs you sing so loudly when you know you're all alone.
You're the places that you've been to, and the one that you call home.
You're the things that you believe in, and the people whom you love.
You're the photos in your bedroom, and the future you dream of.
You're made of so much beauty, but it seems that you forgot
When you decided that you were defined by all the things you're not.

About the Poet

Erin Hanson was born on the 22nd of June 1995 in Brisbane, Australia. She rose to fame for her beautiful poetry. It all started with a blog, a small dream, and a keen desire for expression. Hanson started a blog when she was 11 and started taking the blog more seriously in the year 2011. She wrote poetry and posted it there for the sole purpose that she liked doing so and this pure intention reflected in her work. The power of her verses got a lot of attention to her blog.

Later, in the year 2014, Hanson started narrating poems on Instagram. Much like Rupi Kaur, Erin Hanson started early and stuck with it. She built a loyal following on Instagram, and she was lauded for her thought-provoking poems. 

Hanson got a lot of attention but one specific work of hers is what helped her rise to fame. When she was 18, Erin wrote a line of poetry that changed her career: "What if I fall? Oh, but my darling, what if you fly?" It's a famous line that we’ve all heard before.

Her poetry uses simple words that have a profound effect on the readers. She gets the message conveyed to the audience through simple yet impactful words. Her poetry revolves around concepts of self-love, motivation, and philosophy. Every word in her poems is truly inspiring.

About the poem

'Not' by Erin Hanson is a poem about self-acceptance and self-love. It is also an anthem for the self-judged. 

We spend all our lives doing things for others, living for others, and praising others. We spend so much time dwelling over what people have to say about our personalities and our appearances. A lot of us also spend so long trying to live the dreams of others. But what about us? What about caring for ourselves a little more and loving ourselves a lot more? 

Through this poem, the young poet has taught us how important it is for us to create our world of self-love. This poem is all about romanticizing yourself and celebrating yourself. Who said one can only find love outside? Love is right here, within you, waiting to be found. The poem may seem simple at first but what's ironic is the cascading effect it has right from the start!

The poem gently caresses the big question that all of us ask ourselves in life: “Who am I?” The poem starts in a Michael Singer-like fashion telling us who we are not. And then proceeds to tell us who we actually are. By talking about who we are not, the poet peels the layers of self to reveal a soft, gentle, and rather vulnerable version of ourselves.

Analysis of the poem

Erin starts the poem on an empowering note. She tells the readers that we cannot be defined by all things external and superficial. Looks can be deceiving. We cannot be defined by our age, the size of our clothes, our weight, the color of our hair, our name, or the dimples in our cheeks. Age is a part of who we are, it is not who we are. Similarly, the color of our hair is a part of who we are but it does not define us. The essence of us humans is all the same. We may be different in several ways but there's a reason we all come together and call ourselves human beings.

Aristotle once said very wisely - "The aim of art is to represent not the outward appearance of things, but their inward significance.” Aren't we all art, after all? Every part of our body is art, and so is our personality. What we are on the outside is only a gateway to our inner selves and to what we can offer to the world. So how can we let our appearances define us?

We aren't just our name and age; we are all the words we speak and the thoughts we think. Hanson tells us that even our croaky morning voice and loud laughs are all a beautiful part of who we are. It is our beliefs, our favorite places, and the people we interact with that define us. 

According to Sigmund Freud, a human is a sum of all his experiences in life. It is our experiences and interactions with others that make us who we are. We are a result of every interaction we have had with every person we have met and every circumstance we have encountered. It is all within.

If we read these lines closely, we can understand that Hanson is telling us to appreciate ourselves just like we would appreciate anyone else dear to us. Often, we observe the small things in the people we love. We observe their mannerisms and behavior and fall in love with them repeatedly for the small things they do or say. While reading these lines of the poem, it almost feels like Hanson is urging the readers to love themselves the way we love others.

Hanson ends the poem on a beautiful note. The last two lines are a reminder for the reader that we need to spend more time rediscovering ourselves. We need to recognize ourselves as the beautiful and wholesome people that we are. We have been conditioned into believing that we are not enough. Time and again, we are told by society and the media that we are supposed to be a certain way and that we are defined by all things superficial. This leads to unrealistic standards of appearance and its subconscious adoption. It robs us of our individuality instead of celebrating our uniqueness.

True power comes when we recognize our worth and don't change ourselves just to match societal standards. True empowerment is accepting yourself for who you are.

What can we take away from this poem?

The more we adult, the more we tend to complicate life for ourselves. We keep adding filters to ourselves the more we try to fit in. But we were never meant to fit in. We all are unique in our own way. Imagine if everyone in the world looked the exact same and behaved the same way? You were always meant to stand out. 

None of us are perfect. None of us look perfect either. The truth is that perfection is just an illusion. We are perfect just the way we are. Perfectionism is all your imperfections. Perfectionism is you.

If there's one thing that we can take away from this beautiful poem and implement in our lives, it is that we are not defined by our appearances, or the tags society gives us. We aren't just thin or fat. We aren't just tall or short. We aren't just black or white or blonde or brunette. We are the whole package. We are so much more than our looks convey, or the tags we are given. We aren't perfect, none of us are. It is our imperfections that make us perfect in a beautiful way. Life in itself is a process of self-realization and self-acceptance. And we are all on this journey together - to express our unique potentials.

Downloadable and Printable Version of the Not Poem by Erin Hanson

Not-by-Erin-Hanson Printable Poem A4 Size

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