Be yourself! At some point in time, we have all had these words echoed from a well-meaning friend. It seems wise and helpful on the surface but is it the best advice we should be receiving.
When are You Ever Not Yourself?
This piece of advice implies that somewhere down the road you have derailed and are no longer yourself. Think about this for a moment, this is crazy. There are many different facets to who you are, who you are at work will be different to the person you are down the pub with friends, different to the person you are with your family and partner, as well as different to who you are when no one is around. In all of these moments, you are uniquely yourself. It’s almost impossible to not be yourself
An Excuse to Not Change
Be yourself, momentarily makes you feel warm and fuzzy on the surface, but what is it really saying? This piece of advice gives us validation for a desire to avoid the temporary pain of change and to not learn and develop in areas where we are not competent. We use it as an excuse to stay the same. Essentially, it’s a polite way of saying be who you are right now, do not change, challenge yourself, take risks, and evolve. Take a look at nature for a second, all living things either grow or die, no living thing stays the same. Growth is necessary to living.
Do You Really Know Who You Are?
If someone came up to you today and gave you the advice, be yourself. Would you know what to do? Many of us would not. Would you be able to articulate and describe who you are to a stranger? Probably not, this is because, who you are, is not something you can describe but something that needs to be experienced. Be yourself, implies that you already know who you are. Do you really? Who you are at your core is very different to your behaviours and habits, but this is the first thing that springs to mind when we try to describe who we are. How many times have you heard ‘I’m a’ followed by a profession? These habits and behaviours are a choice and something we do, essentially everything you do is in some way shaping who you are nevertheless it does not define you at your core. Many of us make the mistake of looking to the past in order to discover who we really are or even spending hours meditating or searching for a moment of enlightenment to steer us on the right path.
In order to be yourself, you must know all the many different idiosyncrasies and complexities that are a part of who you are, but how many of us have attained this much self-knowledge? We never arrive at a place where we know who we are, there is always another layer to be discovered, a new experience to be had which reveals an element of ourselves we had either forgotten about or had not yet discovered because we had never challenged ourselves in this way before. We find out who we really are by taking risks and having new experiences; who we are is moulded in the moments after these experiences, through self-reflection by judging what we do and do not like. In these moments experiences of feeling guilty, or experiencing moments of resentment towards ourselves, or even feeling proud of something we got right, all reveal to more of who we really are at our core. Low points or moments of negativity, when we react in a way that we later regret, reveals who we really what to be. True self-discovery is found through taking risks and trying new things.
If had listened to those people who just said ‘be yourself’, I would never have left Brisbane, and I certainly would not have started this blog. I was terrified of putting myself out there, speaking with people and sharing my opinion. The moment I made the decision to stop giving in to the fear of the unknown and to start, it has become something that I now love.
Create Instead of Discover
If who you are is revealed through experience then, who you are is not supposed to be discovered, but instead created. When did you decide that this is who you are? Is it really true? Instead of commencing a journey to self-discovery, figure out who you want to be. The easiest place to start is by setting goals for every area of your life, then ask yourself, what type of person do you need to be in order to achieve these goals? What areas of your life do you need to work on so that you evolve, grow, and become this new you? What experience do you need to have in order to facilitate this growth? What are you afraid of or what are you avoiding right now? More often than not we avoid a particular path in life because there is an area of ourselves that needs developing in order to be successful.
Who you are is not set in stone; it is to be created not discovered, perhaps this piece of advice should be rephrased to ‘be the best possible version of yourself.’ As always, insight without action in futile. How can you shake things up so that you can try something you would not normally do? Is there a personality trait that you want to try on? Please let me know by using the comments box below. Thank you for reading, sharing and commenting with such kindness and enthusiasm.