I remember scrolling through the Quirktastic Twitter feed one day and coming across a picture similar to the one above. I stopped for a few seconds, as I am a huge fan of button earrings, but then kept scrolling down to get the daily news. I responded to a few notifications, refreshed my home feed and there they were again. ‘Alright,’ I thought to myself. ‘Let me do some further investigation.’

When I clicked on the profile of the person who made the earrings, I was surprised to find out that the craftsman was a 20-something bearded yogi named Micheal Sinclair.

Micheal Sinclair is the founder of both a self-titled blog and the accessories brand, As You Are.

What is “As You Are”?
As You Are is a spiritually conscious accessories brand based in unconditional self-love and embracing yourself as you are in the current moment! It’s birth is the direct result of me learning to love myself as I am and being transformed for the better because of it. I felt unconditional love for the first time while meditating. It wasn’t a love that expected anything of me. It wasn’t a love that wanted me to behave a certain way or believe a certain thing. It wasn’t a love that wanted me to change and growing up, it felt like everyone around me wanted me to change into something besides what I was. It was a love just because.

That was the first time in my life that I’ve ever felt whole. No friend, family member, or girlfriend had ever made me feel this way before and it showed me that what we traditionally accept as Love in our culture is conditional and based in insecurity. This insecure “love” makes us possessive, controlling, fearful, and ultimately contributes to us not loving ourselves. I’ve been inspired since that fateful first meditation to spread this newfound truth with as many souls as possible and in late 2016, I finally got my chance!

Is there any reason you chose to make button earrings initially?
I think earrings make such a dope accessories. They can really add so much flavor to your look while still being subtle. I started rocking clothing buttons as earrings in 2013 because I love the gauge look but was too afraid to actually stretch my earlobes and get them. You also don’t see too many people with buttons on their ears so I also got complimented on them often! Fast forward to late summer of 2016; I’d been meditating on a way that I could spread the idea of unconditional love for over a year at that point and one day in September, while I was putting in my button earring, it clicked!

I began designing what these love button earrings would look like and say and 3 short months later, As You Are button earrings were born! I think that earrings work well for spreading the idea of unconditional love because most people have a favorite pair of earrings that they wear more days than others. It’s my hope that the As You Are earrings will become a favorite pair for my customers and will serve as a reminder to the wearer that they are Love and that they are loved as they are each time that they put them in. I intend to expand into other accessories soon but I thought the button earrings would be a dope first offering to see how people would respond to it.

Why is spreading Love so important to you?
I believe wholeheartedly that there’s so much suffering in the world because we don’t love ourselves. We don’t love ourselves because we’ve been programmed to believe that we’re not good enough as we are and that we need to spend our lives becoming something else in order to deserve love. It became obvious to me that the majority of us don’t love ourselves because of how we treat each other.

We’re always judging other people and their lifestyles. “Civilized” countries are full of poverty and resolve problems with other countries by going to war with them and killing their inhabitants. Most of us dream of getting rich, not so that we can spread all of the wealth with those who are less fortunate but so we can stunt on those we feel have underestimated us and buy a ton of material things that won’t make us happy. Anyone who truly loves their self would be committed to helping their neighbor as much as possible because contrary to popular belief, Love doesn’t hurt! People that love themselves are happy with who they are and happy people don’t hurt people.

Hurt people hurt other people because they want to share their pain. Happy people seek to make others happy because they want to share their joy. But because we don’t love ourselves, we put others down so that we might feel better in comparison. We hoard our money, our time, and our talents from our fellow man and gauge our worth based on what we have in comparison to what other people have. We divide ourselves into “us” and try to prevent “them” from having happiness because we fear that if they have it, we can’t. I know because I used to think and behave this way. But Yoga and Meditation showed me a Love that I had never known before and now there’s nothing I want to do except spread as much Love as I can. 

Loving people as they are is a pretty radical idea. Did you always share this kind of philosophy and don’t you worry that this ideology might enable assholes to become even bigger assholes?
To both questions, not at all. I’ve always been a very loving and very emotionally sensitive person but spent the vast majority of my life repressing my emotions and my compassion for others because it didn’t fit the model of what a man was supposed to be to me at the time. I allowed my heart to close up and put up this tough guy front to survive my environment as a child and as I grew older, that manifested into a lot of ugly personality traits like being hyper masculine and using people as objects for personal gain. I didn’t love myself and that made me incapable of loving anyone else.

In the Summer of 2014, my mom got diagnosed with Stage 4 Pancreatic Cancer. I soon learned that 95% of people diagnosed with this disease die within 5 years of diagnosis. Devastated isn’t the word. My mom was my reason for living and now I was being threatened with losing that. The emptiness that arose from this circumstance led me to a path. That path led me to meditation and self-inquiry and eventually led me to accepting myself as I am and loving myself, not because I can do this thing or that thing, not because people like my personality or find me attractive, not because of the talents I have or skills I’ve gained but just because I exist.

I love myself just because I’m a unique expression of my creator just like everything else around me. I learned that I am enough in my current state and it freed me from so much insecurity and self-hatred — self-hatred that I often projected onto others. Self-hatred that caused me to be an asshole often.

To answer the second part of the question, I’ve learned that most people aren’t assholes because they want to be. People become assholes as a defense or coping mechanism. People become assholes because at some point in their life, someone told them that they weren’t good enough or they lost something that meant a lot to them. Accepting myself for who I am allowed a lot of the asshole parts of my personality to die off because I no longer had to repress parts of myself meaning I no longer had to project what I didn’t like about myself onto other people. Since the very first day I felt unconditional love, I’ve been changing and for the better because that’s what real love does. Real love is an asshole cure and will transform anyone who allows it. 

What advice would you give to others who struggle to love their self?
First and foremost, stop comparing yourself to everyone around you! I can’t emphasize this enough. We’re taught to judge from the time we take our first breath. We’re told “this is good”, “this is bad”, “this is ugly”, “this is pretty”, etc. We take this out into the world and we judge everything that’s in it, including ourselves, in comparison to what we THINK is right or wrong. You have to understand that the majority of the things you hold as factually good or bad are really just opinions you’ve formed based off the experiences you’ve had in your life.

Opinions that are often formed without any nuance because you’re too lazy, too ignorant, or too arrogant to look for perspective that might show you that your opinion is wrong. A lot of the things you think are wrong about yourself and others are really just the false beliefs of your family, media, and friends that you’ve inherited and unfortunately began to accept as fact. Over the past few years, I’ve learned that a lot of the things I thought were bad about myself, especially being emotional or having a high emotional intelligence, aren’t bad things at all. It’s actually one of the things that makes me so unique. It’s just that the people around me didn’t know how to deal with their emotions and so they projected that onto me making me feel like I was weak for having them.

Learn your truth and live your truth regardless to whoever might have a problem with it. You have to love yourself so much that you’re okay with potentially losing people because at the end of the day, anyone who leaves you for accepting yourself isn’t a loss, it’s a gain. Meditation and Yoga were the tools I used to help me get to know myself better and both come highly recommended from me. I’m a RYT Certified Yoga teacher and spreading Yoga and meditation in the black community and elsewhere is so important to me. If you want to learn more about me or about how Yoga and Meditation has changed my life, check out my blog.

Anything else you want the people to know about yourself or As You Are?
Know that I love you. Seriously. Even if I don’t know you, I still love you because I know myself and love myself and that’s enough for me to love anybody else. Know that love requires nothing and if anyone or anything tells you that you need to change in order to deserve their love, they’re lying on love and manipulating you so you should get as far away from them as possible. Know that in spite of your flaws, you are already enough. You are worthy. You are beautiful. You deserve everything good thing that you have. I’m so grateful to have you here sharing this experience with me and I truly love you just As You Are!

Make sure to follow Micheal on Instagram and to shop As You Are. How do you practice self-love?