Become Yourself

by Amanda Linehan on March 9, 2009

in Best Of

Be Yourself
Creative Commons License photo credit: dawnzy58

“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!

{ 1 trackback }

{ 11 comments… read them below or add one }

1 Roger March 10, 2009 at 12:39 am

Hi Amanda,

I love the way you start with the process as the simplest and most complex advice. The world is constantly encouraging us to fit in to once mold or another, often several at the same time. Billions of dollars are spent each year to convince us that we need to be something we are perhaps not.

I have come to terms with the fact that I am a mixture of many things, both good and bad depending where my evil twin is at the moment. The question of “Who am I?” is one I am still working on. At times I am not sure that it matters. I am who I am at this moment but may be different in some way tomorrow depending on today’s experience. Someone may mistake me for one suffering from multiple personalities after they read this. :)

I think we should all strive to “be ourselves” but keep in mind that we don’t necessarily need to get caught up in the concept but rather just let it happen and watch were it goes.

Thanks for posting this. It is a concept we all could use to reflect on.

Namaste,
Roger

Roger’s last blog post..Most of the Worst Things That Ever Happened to Me, Never Happened

2 Jay March 10, 2009 at 12:31 pm

I find when people say “be yourself” they actully mean be the person THEY think you should be. It is a tough thing to always be yourself at all times. We wear many masks to hide our true selves because we assume others would not accept that. I think the best method is simply to live in the moment, forget the pictures of the past, and worry about only one persons opinion of us- our own.

Jay’s last blog post..Inner Noodle’s Guide to Dream Analysis-Step 4

3 Amanda Linehan March 10, 2009 at 8:41 pm

Hi Roger – I think your comment really sums up the idea that who we are is dynamic. We flow from one quality to another easily and who we are is not always that clear. I think you ended on a great note – “trying” to be who we are may backfire on us. :) Thanks.

Hi Jay – Thanks for your comment. Haha, yeah, that’s interesting. I think there are many “well meaning” people who do exactly as you say – try to impose their self on others. But, constantly wearing a mask is exhausting and as you pointed out, the remedy for that is often to connect to how you feel about yourself – not how others feel about you. Thanks for your thoughts.

4 Daphne March 10, 2009 at 9:17 pm

I like Jay’s comment that people who say that want us to be who they want us to be. I think when I’m with someone who accepts me just as I am, then I am most myself.

Daphne’s last blog post..Last Call for Personal Creeds!

5 Trey - Swollen Thumb Entertainment March 10, 2009 at 10:06 pm

I really like your advice to “Become Who You Are”. That’s good stuff. Personally, when I remind myself to be myself, it is a reminder that whatever I do, do it with my own unique voice. When I write, I don’t imitate other writers, I try to express myself. When I produce music, I try to find my inner voice in the form of music, not whatever’s on the radio. And when I network with people, I try to find people who appreciate me for who I am, and not who I am trying to be.

Trey – Swollen Thumb Entertainment’s last blog post..Is It Time For The Simpsons To End?

6 Lance March 10, 2009 at 10:30 pm

I am myself…on the inside. The question for me becomes how take those internal and true self images – and project them outward. Without fear. Fear of being ridiculed/judged/laughed at/thought less of/etc. And the truth is – I think in many cases – even if people do these things – they respect that you’re being true to yourself.

Lance’s last blog post..Sunday Thought For The Day

7 Giovanna Garcia March 11, 2009 at 3:10 am

Hi Amanda

For me “Be Myself” started out as being able to feel comfortable in my own skin. Accepting who I am, the imperfection, the strange things that I do, the Chinglish that I speak… everything. This is ME.
After that then it to become the person “I Aspire To Be”. Didn’t Michaelangelo said to create David, “I just chipped away everything that was NOT David.” So, I chipped away all the parts that are not Giovanna.

Giovanna Garcia
Imperfect Action is better than No Action

Giovanna Garcia’s last blog post..You are building your life.

8 Amanda Linehan March 11, 2009 at 5:53 am

Hi Daphne – Being around someone who accepts and likes you for who you are is a true gift. Keep those people around!!

Hi Trey – I like that you’ve sort of broken this down in terms of action. So, whatever it is that you are creating you are putting your stamp on it. I think that’s cool to add so much of yourself to what you do. Thanks :)

Hi Lance – I wholeheartedly agree with your last sentence. Sometimes we do get judged/ridiculed for showing who we are, but you are right, behind that people are often surprised/impressed with it. In a way, I think being yourself gives other people permissin to do the same. Thanks for this.

Hi Giovanna – I really like your “evolution” of being yourself. From simply “being comfortable in your own skin” to “chipping away all that is not you” (what a beautiful way to express that idea). Being who we are is as impressive as Michaelangelo’s David.

9 Chris Edgar | Purpose Power Coaching March 11, 2009 at 4:07 pm

Yes, I would agree with a few of the other commenters that for me the process of “becoming myself” has involved unlearning all the ways that I apologize for who I am, whether it’s places where I tense up my body in anticipation of a blow or an attack from the outside world, or the places where I hold myself back for the same reasons. I like how Wilhelm Reich talked about this process as taking off our armor.

Chris Edgar | Purpose Power Coaching’s last blog post..Is There Such A Thing As “Boring” Work?

10 Michael March 11, 2009 at 7:52 pm

Hi Amanda. What a great question!

I take the statement “be yourself” to mean “be your highest self.” It is no easy task, because we have to discover who we really are.

The problem I think is that we typically identify ourselves with the things that are most familiar to us: our body and appearance, our thoughts, our experiences, our loved ones, our surroundings and belongings, etc. Yet these things are all subject to change and loss. There are moments (being in the zone) when the memory of all these slips away. We could argue that in these moments we forget our own identity, but I think it’s in these exact moments that we come closest to being ourselves.

For this reason, I believe we must from time to time withdraw from the world outside and peer deep within ourselves (meditate) to discover who and what we truly are.

Michael’s last blog post..The Language of Love

11 Amanda Linehan March 11, 2009 at 9:38 pm

Hi Chris – Yeah, a few commenters mentioned “unlearning” things that they had been taught (in their own ways). I think it’s a shame that we receive so many messages that basically tell us to become anything but ourselves.

Hi Michael – Thanks for your comment :) Being “in the zone” is a great feeling and I understand exactly what you are saying about feeling more like yourself in those moments than at other times. It’s interesting how stripping away the things that you associate with you actually helps us feel like ourselves. Maybe that’s telling us something about who we really are. ;)

Leave a Comment

Previous post:

Next post: