Above All Else, Be True to Yourself
Is the “self” you present to others the real you, or is it who you want people to believe you are? Sometimes we find ourselves living a lie because we do not want to face the truth of who we really are. Maybe there are things we do not like about ourselves. Maybe we want to impress someone we perceive to be better than us. Maybe we have a need to be validated by others. Whatever the reason, the common thread is that on some level we believe that we are not good enough, so we try to compensate by acting in a way we believe will gain approval from others. But the answer is not to be someone we are not…it is to realize that we are perfect just as we are.
When we are not living authentically, we are conforming to someone else’s vision of who we should be instead of being the best possible version of ourselves. And maybe they will like you better as that person, but that person is not you. So if you think about it, they don’t really like you at all, not the real you anyway. They only like the “pretend” you.
“To be yourself in a world that is constantly trying to make you something else is the greatest accomplishment”. ~ Ralph Waldo Emerson
There is so much pressure to “fit in” nowadays. Everyone wants to be accepted, but at what cost? People are so afraid of being perceived as different that they allow others to dictate how the should behave and think and dress, etc. If we have an opinion that conflicts with that of the “group” (coworkers, religious or ethnic group, etc.) we keep it to ourselves because in order to be accepted by the group, you must conform to their ideology. They are not interested in your opinion, their only concern is that you uphold theirs. So we go along with whatever is presented to us, allowing our own unique ideas to be swallowed by our fear of being rejected.
Fear of rejection also leads to approval-seeking from those close to us. People often find themselves feeling pressured by their friends to “keep up with the Joneses”. The neighborhood they live in, the car they drive, the clothes they wear….all must be of the same caliber as the crowd they hobnob with. And adult children will often try to make parents proud by going into a profession that does not even suit them, while secretly longing to pursue their dream job.
“To thine own self be true, and it must follow, as the night the day, thou canst not then be false to any man.” ~ William Shakespeare
Not being true to ourselves is being afraid of who we are. We are literally trying to run away from ourselves in order to avoid rejection. We all want to feel accepted, but too often we try to fill this need outside of us when it should be filled from within. When we rely on someone else for acceptance, we have to dance to their tune. We were created to dance to the music inside of us, and the only way we can do that is through self-acceptance.
As we learn to accept ourselves, we realize that we do not need to impress anyone, and we recognize that we are enough. If the people we are trying to please do not like us as we are, then maybe we do not need them in our lives. There are enough people in this world for us to find those that will accept us and love us for our crazy, wonderful, unique qualities.
If there are things about yourself that can be improved, improve them. Work on yourself until you are the best possible version of you. But never let anyone try to change who you are. Live authentically. And above all else, be true to yourself.