At some point, you’ll have heard someone dispense the age-old “sentence solution”:
I’m here today to tell you that, IMHO, “be yourself” is a very empowering statement. It’s also the most bullshit concept that ever existed.
And here’s why.
“Be yourself” is one of those statements that has been bastardised and reduced to a cliché: something we say to appear knowledgeable, when we have no idea what to say (or more to the point, when we’re talking out of our arses).
It usually comes up when we talk about attraction to other people. There’s always that one person, popping up out of nowhere, who offers “be yourself” as some kind of advice.
What makes “be yourself” a bunch of bullshit is that, while “being yourself” itself isn’t the solution. Oftentimes, it won’t turn a doomed situation into a successful outcome.
In the case of attracting someone: I’ve had many experiences where “being myself” not only didn’t help my cause, but it was actually the problem. That’s been true whether the “myself” related to skin colour, weight, looks or personality.
If someone has already decided* they don’t like you, no amount of “being yourself” will change that.
* (David DeAngelo was right when he said “attraction isn’t a choice”; I say, attraction’s a decision.)
“Be yourself” was often something that most people said just before they ran off. It often equates to:
be yourself, so I have an excuse not to like you.
But I saw a YouTube video I saw a while ago, posted by MagusX1, which was a heartfelt reminder of why “being yourself” is important.
Genuinely “being yourself” is a call to accept and respect yourself for the person you are right now, irrespective of what other people think you ought to be.
“Being yourself” is about respecting yourself, or what most people call having “self-respect”. I’m not talking about what people call “self-esteem”: you don’t even have to like yourself, or like how you look. It’s about having enough respect for yourself to not let anyone who doesn’t respect you dictate your life.
Some people like to randomly throw in small-minded platitudes, like:
If you don’t like yourself nobody else will like you.
These are nothing more than guilt-trips, designed to make someone conform to ideals of how other people think they should be.
I know at least that “being yourself” has nothing to do with other people. I’d argue that if someone’s obsessed with how other people see them, they’re not really being themselves.
I’ll tell you one thing: “being yourself”, or having respect for yourself, isn’t easy. It’s not easy, because we’ve been accustomed to other people putting on a front, while being completely different people to how they portray themselves. In today’s society, to be accepted by other people often means putting on a “disguise” to conceal our true identities.
To end this rant, I will leave you with the following quote:
To be nobody but yourself in a world which is doing its best, night and day, to make you everybody else means to fight the hardest battle which any human being can fight; and never stop fighting.
– E E Cummings