This one is a little of an oxymoron – you are you, I am I, how can you be anything other than yourself? Well, speaking personally, I’ve fallen into the trap before of being a chameleon, i.e. changing who I am to fit the group or person I’m engaging with. Is this a learned or born skill or a little of both? Who knows and does it really matter? This chameleon like trait can of course be a blessing just as much as it can be a curse, a curse of forgetting how to be yourself. For me, the blessing is that I can see so many different perspectives and the “curse” is that I can get so immersed in understanding another’s perspective that I can forget my own – do I even have one? So with that little intro, here are a few rambling thoughts on the practice of being yourself in case you ever find yourself similarly “lost.”
1) Dive deep within yourself. This could (and probably will) be a blog post in and of itself. The answer to how to be yourself comes from knowing yourself. Diving deep within the nooks and crannies of your spirit, your essence. Facing your demons – the parts of yourself you may not like – and acknowledging your strengths while also knowing that you are far more than the sum of your strengths and weaknesses. You are always you. That’s how you can strive to grow and improve and even change different aspects of yourself (say you want to start a healthy morning routine and be someone that has good morning routines as one small example) while still being you. Even if like me you have a tendency to chameleon yourself to your surroundings, that’s still a beautiful part of what makes you you. Even if like me you find yourself writing a blog post about how to be yourself. That’s a wonderful part of what makes you you… or me me in this particular example. And even the things you have in common with others … those still make you you too … it’s how all the pieces fit together into one unique bundle that is you.
2) Stop worrying about whether people will like you. While an inherent adaptability or chameleon energy isn’t a bad thing if it’s happening even subconsciously because you want to fit in with a group and want people to like you, then it’s really not ideal. Remember, you can still compromise and be adaptable when needed without hiding your true opinions. And if people don’t like you for sharing your thoughts, emotions, values and beliefs, they’re not people who care about and respect you and certainly aren’t worth you worrying about them liking you. Another point on this, differences are okay! It’s natural to want to be liked and fit in and perhaps similar to our loved ones and it may pain us if we have a strong different opinion on something to someone close to us. Part of the journey of learning to be yourself is learning to be okay with our differences. As long as there is mutual respect, differences can be awesome growing tools, as we learn the art of putting ourselves in someone else’s shoes and understanding, accepting and respecting them while simultaneously knowing what our own shoes are even if those are a bit different from the other persons.
3) Accept yourself. This ties in with point number 1 about diving deep. You may not like everything about yourself if you really dive deep. We all have both light and darkness within us. It’s our choices every day that define us. Do we step into the light or the dark. And sometimes we need to step into the dark to get through to the light at the other side. Accept who you are today, who you were yesterday and who you will be tomorrow. You can accept yourself while still wanting to improve and grow. That’s how you can have the self-assurance of being okay with yourself and who you are even while you face any aspects of “darkness” within that you want to shine a light on and heal.
“Be yourself. Everyone else is already taken.” – Mark Twain