How To Be Yourself (And Not Who Others Want You To Be)
Too many of us live our lives according to the will of others. We conform our way of thinking and being to what we think is expected of us. Rather than truly being ourselves, we let the world and its values, and the people within, gain control over our instincts and sensibilities, and change ourselves accordingly. Sometimes we are the person that others want us to be. And sometimes we are the person that we 'think' others want us to be.
We dress a certain way to impress our loved ones, friends, and the people at work.
We compare ourselves to others and do all we can to be 'like' them, whether that's following the same fashion, opting for a breast augmentation to be 'body beautiful, or following their way of living.
We let other people's judgements alter the way we see ourselves, with every criticism of who we are compounding our fragile self-esteem.
We act, talk, and look a certain way, to gain the approval of others, rather than living life the way we would normally choose to.
If you ever thought you were truly being yourself, you may want to think again if any of the above is true. But you're not alone. Many of us live a certain way to conform to society. We want people to like us, so we do what is expected of us. We don't want to be seen as weird or different, so we let the standards of others take precedence, even if it's against our inclinations. We want to be ourselves, but consciously or subconsciously, we are probably living a life that is not entirely of our own choosing.
So, what do you think? Have we struck a chord with you? Are you not the person you want to be? Of course, you may be entirely 'you.' Marching to the beat of your own drum may be your norm. You don't give a blazes about what others think of you, and you truly are being yourself. That's excellent news! But if you're somebody who sees themselves through the eyes of others, and if you are living a life that has been created by the will of others, then it's time to stop and think. Are you truly happy? If you're not being yourself, then you may not be.
It's not easy to be truly ourselves. And let's face it, sometimes we do have to do what is acceptable in society - if we always did or said what we wanted to do, we may get in trouble with the law, lose our jobs, and destroy our friendships. But there has to be a level when we can be ourselves without drifting too far away from our own personas.
To be yourself, consider the following.
Find yourself again. Take time apart from others, and go to that place where you can reflect on your life and choices. Travel solo, and completely get away from it all, or simply take a weekend away at a retreat or similar and think about your life in quiet and solitude. Who are you? You will never know until you are in a place where you are away from the expectations of others.
Quit social media. Do it for a time, at least. It's difficult to know who you are when you are faced with the thoughts and opinions of others on your various social media channels. It's difficult to get perspective on your life when you are looking for others to validate you, with 'likes' and 'retweets' on Facebook and Twitter. You don't need to impress others with your words and pictures. Give yourself a social media detox, and we guarantee your life will still go on without this addiction. And by doing so, you will get to know yourself without the influence of your legions of followers.
Stop pleasing others. There are times when you may want to please others. When you're trying to get a promotion, for example, or when you're supporting a friend. But you don't have to please everybody all of the time. You don't have to look a certain way if you have a preferred style. You don't have to say things you don't mean to acquire validation. You don't have to let go of your own happiness to make others feel happy. There are times when you should wear what you want, say what you want, and do what you want. There are times when you shouldn't compromise who you are to satisfy what others expect of you. Resist the urge and let people see the real you once in a while.
Stop analyzing everything. Why did they say that to me? Why did I say that? Why is that person looking at me in such a way? Have I offended them? Did I just put my foot in it again? Will they like me? Blah blah blah. Too many questions, too much overanalyzing. Stop it! We don't have to read subtexts and contexts into what people are saying to us. We don't have to feel guilty about the words we say. We don't have to assume people are judging us. And we don't have to judge ourselves on our words and actions. Sometimes, we just have to let things be, without letting our thoughts carry us into a mental frenzy. Sometimes, we have to be present in our reality, being happy with who we are even if people are critical of us; we have to be happy with what we say, if what we say is truly reflective of what we want to say; and we don't have to let every word or action from another affect our self-perception.
Today, be yourself. Do what pleases you and not what pleases others. If you want to make changes in your life, do so because it's what you want and not what other people want (or what you think they want). Accept yourself warts and all, be kind to yourself, and be assertive. In the end, we can't tell you how to live your life, or how to control your thinking, because we're not you. But you can take control over your own life, and you can start by doing that today. Be yourself, whatever that means to you!