“My recipe for life is not being afraid of myself, afraid of what I think or of my opinions.” – Eartha Kitt
We have all been told at one time or another to “be yourself.” This is at once the simplest and most complex piece of advice that we have ever been given. This should be simple, right? I mean, who else can we be? And yet, until we’ve asked the question “who am I?” we won’t be able to be who we are.
This post is in a lot of ways a combination (or maybe a distillation) of several things that I have written before, because I sense a tension between the ideas of “making yourself into the person you want to be” and “being who you are,” but, really, they are not that different from each other.
We are told in a number of ways (many of which are unspoken) that we need to fit ourselves into a certain mold. Decide on where you want to go and then develop yourself into that thing. But, ultimately, I feel this causes a lot of dissatisfaction for people. When we’ve reached a point where we’ve always wanted to be, and, still we feel that something is not right, maybe we have gotten off onto the wrong path.
On the other hand, when we decide to be who we are, are we simply giving in to bad habits and comfortable patterns? This is where the challenge of “be who you are” comes in. We are all a mixture of (for lack of better words) “good” and “bad” qualities, and “being who you are” includes all of them.
Maybe a better piece of advice would be “Become Who You Are,” because this combines the two ideas. Your success in life is based on your unique combination of qualities, but you will have to spend time developing them.
Becoming who you are assumes a process (probably a long process!), but it also assumes a foundation in your unique qualities. Spend time developing yourself, but develop and grow from your own roots. Accept yourself as whole, but remember that the whole can be refined an unlimited number of times.
What do you think of the advice “Be Yourself”? How do you follow (or not follow) that advice in your life? Feel free to leave your answers in the comment section!