No one sees us the way we see ourselves.
Like many people, I have given and likewise have been given, over and over again, the advice: “Be Yourself”.
Pondering about it now, I realized the advice was, in some way or another, unwise and ridiculous, to say the least, terrible!
Now, before you furrow your eyebrows in rage for that comment, hear me out on this, first: because if I were to be “myself,” I would never overcome my inability as an introvert to confront uncomfortable situations such as speaking in public or in front of large groups (which I occasionally do at work as an executive and at church as minister of service) or, most importantly, never would have come up with this beautiful blog site which by the way expresses and represents thinking and ideologies that are still considered unconventional or “out-of-the-box” to many—a manifestation of sheer boldness to trample upon “untrodden grounds”, literally quite the opposite from the makings of a “shy” person.
Going back to the subject of “being yourself”, I understand that we are currently living in the “Age of Authenticity“, where “be yourself” is the defining advice in life, love and career. Authenticity is defined as erasing the gap between what you firmly believe inside and what you reveal to the outside world. Simply put: “the choice to let our true selves be seen.”
But, would you agree if I say that being authentic does not have to mean being a slave to your inner life; acting on every impulse, sharing every feeling you have, or not caring what impact you have on others?
In light of that, there is, to my opinion, a kind of authenticity toward which we could all strive—the kind of authenticity that entails choosing to be the you that you envision being. Of course that doesn’t mean we should try to be someone else. But if we never consciously choose who we want to be, to what “self” will we be “true”?
These are the big questions we should be asking ourselves then: Do we have the idea what we mean when we talk about finding our “true self.”? So what are we talking about when we talk about being “yourself”? Because the “self” is a highly complex array of one’s innate perspectives and responses combined with a host of one’s acquired beliefs, values, and actions.
So what does it mean to be “true to yourself”? To what “self” would you like to be “true”? If you have a biological tendency to be shy, but you want to make a difference in the world and in order to do so, you need to effectively make presentations to large audiences, do you want to be “true” to A) your biological tendency to be shy, or to B) the difference you want to make in the world? Which “self” is your “authentic self”? If you choose option A, does that mean it is “inauthentic” for you to become an incredibly good public speaker? Well, that was just an analogy.
Here’s where the difference lies, we tend to believe that we have fixed, concrete personalities or characteristics. “I am shy” or “I am outgoing” become descriptions of what we come to think are essential elements of who we are—our “true self” or “authentic self.” But, I strongly believe, that there is NO “fixed essence” of who we must be, because if that’s the case, then we are putting limits to our personal growth!
Another thing is that, many believe that being “yourself” means being true to that fictional, “fixed self,” and I stand contrary to that. Because the “self” is not immutable, is not “fixed, and is up to each of us to create, and choosing who to be is a deeply authentic way to be.
So “be yourself,” but choose wisely the self you want to be 🙂