“It’s easy” She said. “Just be yourself” She said. My eyes began to roll…
Firmly engraved on the Holy Grail of cliché advice read the words “Just Be Yourself” This Swiss-army-knife, you-better-believe-it’s-not-butter! McDonald’s chicken-nugget of conventional wisdom seems to be the answer of all of life’s burning questions and apparently everyone but you, has figured it out. At least that’s how the story goes…
If being yourself is the answer, and barring that you don’t harbor a severe case of schizophrenia (Which is cool if you do…no judgment here!) then in theory you should be able to wake up, fully express yourself and with just the right amount of fairy dust, all of your problems will be solved. Later on in the evening, your Fairy God Mother will turn a pumpkin into a horse carriage, escort you to the grand ball and I’ll meet you in the corner smiling, flask in hand.
Unfortunately my sensationalized fantasy of pumpkins, grand balls, and Fairy God Mothers isn’t reality. The facts are the facts: you woke up today as yourself, yet you still have trouble fully expressing yourself. It’s ok, you and I share the same curse… we’re human.
Learning to be yourself is the perfect riddle: you already know the answer, but learning how to execute the answer is the real pearl of the problem. This article was written with the intent to help you live authentically so you can drink from the Holy Grail of cliché advice because they don’t want you to drink from the Holy Grail of cliché advice. They don’t want you to be yourself.
Let’s go ahead and state the obvious:
I Don’t Know Who You Are.
I don’t know who you are. I don’t know what you want. If you are looking for ransom I can tell you I don’t have money, but what I do have are a very particular set of skills. Skills I have acquired over a very long career. Skills that make me a nightmare for people like you.
Whoa, didn’t mean to go full Liam Neeson on you back there, post movie stress disorder acting up again. Sheesh.
Sincerely though, I don’t know you or the situation you’re in. I don’t know what motivates you, what inspires you, what makes you dream and what makes you weep. I want the best for you, but I’m not sitting on tailored advice I made specifically for you.
However I do know someone who does knows you best.
Define Your Values
The starting point of being yourself is to sit down and define your values. Values are something you learn in grade school and if you’re like me, you probably weren’t paying complete attention, it’s ok, guidance counselors are notoriously 7 years behind the times. I get it, no harm, no foul.
Values can be likened to the skeleton bones of your conscience, giving you a base and a structural frame to begin to answer the innocent, innocuous and in depth questions the pitcher named “Life” throws at you. Having well defined values gives you the tools to conquer life; they save you from engaging in situations that make your heart suffer. In easiest terms, values let you know exactly “where the fuck you get off” on day to day issues. They’re awesome, they’re worth your time and they save you from most heartaches. I dig them, you dig them, we dig them, ya dig?
I’ve come up with a general list of questions that I personally use that helped me on my journey. Maybe they can help you too.
- What do you value in work?
- What work do you find fulfilling?
- What do you value in friends?
- What qualities do you look for in people?
- What do you value in relationships?
- What do you admire most in people?
- What do you dislike most in people?
- How do you respond to criticism?
- What is your definition of success?
- What do you consider to be a worthwhile life?
- What do you value in yourself?
- What do you stand for?
- How do you like to be treated?
- What do you tolerate?
- What don’t you tolerate?
- What makes you happy?
- What makes you sad?
- What do you believe?
Answer honestly and live with the results as the truth has nothing to hide from.
Notice When You Are Not Being Yourself
Here’s a million dollar paradox for you: we all innately know we should be ourselves but we can’t define who we are….yet we know who we are…. because we are ourselves. WTF, the perfect crime, am I right?!
As with all good internal, soul-scarring, identity-conflicts there’s a silver lining to this particular paradox: Although we have a difficult time realizing when we are being ourselves we can easily identify when we aren’t being ourselves. This is the key to success baby!
Anytime you find yourself in a situation where you are acting in a manner that feels “Fake” (Not living you values) be sure to recognize it. It’s easy to tell when you’re not being yourself, because we’re all made with a great bullshit detector. We should probably use it. It’s only when we are able to identify situations when we aren’t being ourselves we can then begin to concisely decide to “Be ourselves” in those same situations.
So it seems we have reached the final boss in this video game called life. I’m pleading with you: the hard work is done, you know your values and you have begun to notice moments when you are not truly being yourself. The next step is all about action.
The best way to be yourself is to change the moments that you catch yourself not truly being yourself. You want to live authentically; authenticity is what magic is made of.
Dare to truly be and express yourself. What’s the worst that can happen? You’ll feel happier? You’ll have more self-respect? You’ll establish more meaningful connections? You can give people vague advice confidently? You’ll overuse the italicize button? C’mon!
All kidding aside, in the moments that you noticed you were behaving in an inauthentic manner, challenge yourself to behave authentically.
Yes, it will feel awkward at first. Yes, it will make you feel vulnerable. Yes, you will have to deal with people’s reactions. Yes, it becomes easier with time. Yes, this is a life long project. Yes, it will all be worth it.
Being yourself isn’t something anyone has; it’s not a good, it’s not a product, it’s not something you can buy at the store or copy from someone’s Instagram profile. It truly means living and being your authentic self. That’s it. It’s beautifully simple as are all good things.
Experience Life One Moment At A Time.
The real secret to truly expressing yourself sounds new-age, religious, eastern based, western based and you probably heard it before with deaf ears. You need to experience life one moment at a time; you need to be present. Life is happening as you are reading this sentence. Life is now, literally right-fucking-now.
Do not try to plan how to be yourself or look up to a person for inspiration. Rather be present in the moment. When you’re in the moment there isn’t anytime to think, only time for action. I can tell you from experience that this is hard. This is really fucking hard, and yes I’m aware that you are a busy person with busy person problems. Try to live in each moment as they come. Know that this process takes time and achieving 100 percent success, 100 percent of the time is a fantasy. A good way to stay present is focusing on your breath, and setting time for meditation. More than half the world mediates for this reason, they might be on to something.
When you’re are able to fully step into each moment life oozes chance, you will become enchanted and even repulsed by the possibility of infinite options.
I truly believe life was made to be simple but we have a fantastic way of overcomplicating matters. (The whole being human thing) It’s time to get back to the basics. Define what you stand for (Values), notice when you aren’t being yourself (Not living your values), be yourself in the moments when you aren’t being yourself and live in the present moment. You’ll be ok kid, I’ve got news for ya’ you already are yourself. 😉
Please comment, share and let me know what you think! If you have any advice how to express yourself share it! The world is better off with knowledge.
70 thoughts on “How To Be Yourself”
This was excellent. “Be yourself” is easily one of the most used and least thought about phrases in existence, so it’s nice to for once have someone actually think about it and elaborate. Bravo, sir.
Thank you sir!
I don’t know you, but if I did I’d give you a big ol’ hug! Needed this piece today (& almost every other day) I’ve been struggling, trying to please everyone, which I know is impossible, & I really have lost myself. Trying to get back to that place. Thank you!
I’ll give you a big virtual, cyber space hug! So happy you found this helpful – hope all is well and rest assured the sun will rise tomorrow.
Dope Article my brotha
My brotha E Smallz
Reblogged this on The Ovals of Life and commented:
Ok so basically Tony is not full of bologna. This dude has it figured out. Check out what he has to say about life and stuff.
I know this sounds weird, but what if we made carbon copies of you and spread them all over the world? I mean, that article was downright amazing and wonderful, the message should be spread all over the galaxy.
Thank you for your words of wisdom!
That’s awesome that you liked it man! If you can make carbon copies of me I’m all for it!
I’ll get some smart scientists to do it for me haha
“I am large, I contain multitudes.” – Whitman
— As we all do. Which ‘myself’ I’m being at the moment varies with what I’m doing, who I’m with, and my current goals and fears.
Hilarious post! It actually reminded me a bit of another article I read earlier today, about how we think that coming into our own, knowing ourselves and being the answer to our own happiness is the end goal: http://blogs.thegospelcoalition.org/trevinwax/2016/01/05/the-gospel-according-to-taylor-swift/
Glad you liked it!
I’ll check Out the link too
Dude, long time no see! I resonate pretty well with this. I hate two faced. I loathe liars. I just want people to be real. All of what you said is true. This is incredibly hard. People look at you weird, tell you you’re dumb, and a myriad of other obscene things. Regardless, I find satisfaction in being myself. God made me who I am for a reason. I don’t wanna be anyone else…
Plus, who wouldn’t wanna be me? Am I right? lol
The beauty is it gets easier as life goes on brother!!
I love me and I love being me b/c that is the only person I know how to be. I have spent years learning who I am and I have come to the conclusion I am just the bomb of wife and mother. I would love to have me for a friend <3 and when I turned 40 I really just stopped giving a crap whether people liked me or not. I have learned in my now 50 + years the only one who matters whether or not they like me is me. I can be the best for my marriage, my family and this crazy world if I like me and stand up for what I believe in, because in the end well you know it was never between me and them. You know the rest Blessings <3…Oh by the by I have been married to my guy for 37 years and I have raised 5 kids. Some of them like me and some of them don't. For those I don't, that's not my problem it's there's. For the ones I do, well good for them. They finally realized who is their best friend in this whole crazy world and will love them for all time, Mom <3.
You’re right! You’re in charge of your own happiness. Thank you for stopping by.
So thoughtful, thank you for this. Also i adore the name of your blog!!
Thank you so much!
I think you should write a book called “Post-Modern Spirituality for Dummies” or something.
I wish they distributed shit like this when I was in school instead of, as you eloquently put in one of your previous posts, the typical “self-help, raspberry bullshit.”
Good stuff. 👍
Ha I just may!
I’m glad you like it though!
You have started to make a lot of sense, genius! 😛 This was funny, corny and still so relatable! Good writing, keep it up!
Thank you! I really do appreciate your feedback!! Keep them insta’s up!
Reblogged this on KCJones.
The flashing truth: ‘Life is simple.’
Whoa, have I overcomplicated and concocted stuff thinking otherwise. Everytime, yeah definitely, – when it eventually sunk in that the key to all problems, even the universe, is simple, simplicity, and I had surfaced from my deluded perception that only ‘simple people and simple things are simple and everything else just has to be helluva complex, including of course Moi,’ – everytime the answers where like smack me in the face so blooming simple. Of course we can add quantum and relativity and string theory and maths to all things, and nothing wrong with that, but it doesn’t solve my life. Meditation and breathing however brings me into the present from my racing self which flip-flops between future and past, skipping the best part, living in the moment of now, and lets that become my preferred hangout place.
You have a captivating way with words, thanks for sharing your talent with us.
Hey, there’s a whole self-help industry out there dedicated to suppressing Arthur Rimbaud’s insight ‘Je est un autre’, usually translated as ‘I is another’. Vive the mystery of the shared existence!
“You’ll overuse the italicize button” – honestly, I had to laugh out loud because of this! I loved reading this completely true post about life and wanted to leave a (long overdue) thank you for your like on one of my posts ‘about life’ on A Hopeful Wanderer
I love this post! Great read, and so much to think about. Perfect. Thank you!
So glad that you like it Christine! I always try to write to get people to think and it’s really rewarding hearing that you appreciated it! Thank you.
Great post – this is what I try to live by everyday, not always easy, but I try. Thanks for sharing! 🙂
No problem, it’s always hard, but the world is inherently hard so anything too easy probably isn’t worthwhile =)
Your sense of humor and sarcasm shines through this post. Wonderful read, I think Liam Neeson is amazing by the way.
Back in the 70s we were all trying to find ourselves. I went on a journey for a short time, then came back home. I slowly realized I knew where I was. This is great! And so true in our cliche-ridden pop culture society. 🙂
Hi Tony – I wanted to let you know that I nominated you for a blogging award. https://braindifferent.wordpress.com/2016/01/28/blogger-recognition-award/
Awesome – awesome thank you!!!
Thank you for liking my post which lead me to you. I really enjoyed your Being yourself Article. I am 77 and have gone thru many different “selves” It seems like every time we start on a new phase of our life, we again have to figure out just who we are, single to married, divorced to single parent, parent with kids who grew up and are adults, living the single life, and so on, I am at the point now where I am asking “OK God, what’s next? What do you want me to do now” What is my next purpose?” I think we all go thru phases where even though we are the same person, same morals, hopefully anyway, same values, we have to change. You are correct, we know when we are being fake and not being ourselves. My advice to everyone, be polite, be honest, be moral, have strong, good values(the kind God would approve off, but forget about Political Correctness because I think that is the biggest fake of all. Above all, the question to ask, “God why did you put me here and what is my purpose? and please help me be all you want me to be.” If you figure out that question, I guarantee you will be happy on earth and in Heaven with Him some day. God bless you all.
Satirical and easy on the eyes – a potent combination that makes this vegetarian crave a little bologna… (not really, but your blog is wonderfully composed). Many blessings!
Thank you very much, I appreciate the kind words!!
Love this, and thanks for liking my post!
I really liked reading it. It was inspired. Beautifully presented. 🙂
Here’s hoping you’ll check out my blog too at https://thewhimsicalandwanderingsoul.wordpress.com/
Thanks for the kind words! I’ll check your blog out
good sharing…like it very much.
Reblogged this on Mental Spark.
Than you from your like on betwixtbeginnings.wordpress.com – I wandered a bit and found this post of yours and WHAT a great start to my day!! I have to agree with the commenter who said we figure our true selves out many times over our lives, but your advice on how to do that really resonated with me.
By the way, add me to the group that snickered at the “overuse the italicize button”.
Hahah glad you liked it!!
You write beautifully!
Thanks Renee! I always appreciate hearing that – I’m gonna roll out some new content here soon
“post movie stress disorder”… Poignant and funny. You are my hero.
*I would like to clarify that particular line was just funny. The rest was poignant:)
Hahah thank you !!!
Nice lists of questions. Very daring and necessary I think.
Thanks – yeah they force you to address hard issues that’s Forsure
I would like to know if most of us will put the same answers.
That’s an interesting thought..
Yeah. Most of us will have not since the world is the opposite of what we want.
Thank you for stopping by my blog and liking my post 😊
Have a nice weekend 🙌
My pleasure – you do the same🙌🏾🙌🏾🙌🏾
For a short time, I was a high school teacher. I usually tell people I quit teaching because of physical disability (which is true), but another reason I quit is that I didn’t like the person I became — felt I HAD to become — while teaching. I didn’t like the guy who pretended not to like science fiction (when you hear people say things like, “Science fiction!?! You mean like witchcraft?” you make sure no one catches you reading the stuff in the teachers’ lounge), the guy who never spoke up when the school’s assistant principal said all the students from low-income families were INCAPABLE of doing well in school, the guy who never tried to challenge his colleagues’ attitudes about the importance of education…
Now I’m a freelance editor. I’m not using my university degree, but I’m doing work that allows me to be myself, and I’m a lot happier.
That’s awesome man! You know you gotta take chances and actions to change outcomes
I can’t be someone I am not.
Mark Twain said, “Be yourself is the worst advice you can give to some people.” I can name at least five and they all live in D.C.
Really enjoying your posts…
Hahah I wonder who those 5 are… so happy you enjoy them! It makes me happy to read that
I really like this. And thank God you added some timely profanities in the middle, otherwise i would think i’m reading the words of some new-age buddhist white hippie (been there, mate)