Growing up, people could tell me to “be myself” all day long and I still wouldn’t know what they meant. But recently, I’ve come to understand what this clichéd piece of advice actually means. While fully understanding the phrase and actually living it out are two separate, nuanced elements that will take years of work, I thought I’d make an attempt at explaining what I consider to be the
“art of being yourself,” in hopes it helps you gain better understanding of the phrase, too.
But first, how I came to understand how to “be myself”:
One day, during my second semester of college, my friend told me that I had really “come out of my shell” since we met during our first semester. As someone who has always been outgoing, this confused me. But it didn’t take long for me to realize that I had been watering myself down to try and make people like me. In my efforts to make friends, I became a lesser version of myself so that there couldn’t possibly be something about me to make others dislike me. However, in there being nothing to dislike, I wonder what there was to like. That was when I realized:
“It’s not your job to be likable. It’s your job to be yourself. Someone will like you anyway.” – Chimamanda Ngozi Adichie
If people only liked me because I was a shell of myself, they didn’t really like me, they liked the less vibrant, less quirky, overly apologetic person I appeared to be. When I realized this and began to unapologetically be my full, true self, that was when it felt like people were more drawn to me, more intrigued by what made me different, what set me apart. People don’t want to be friends with carbon copies of themselves, they want to be friends with people who show them a new way of looking at the world, people who shine brightly with all their own, true colors.
By being yourself, you will naturally make friends with people who love you for you and not for who you’re pretending to be. The people who like you for you are the people you want in your life. They make living easier. Because you know they love the real you, there’s nothing to hide behind. And there is glorious comfort and endless joy to be found in that.
The Art of Being Yourself
Being yourself means knowing your worth, and living it out with confidence. It means not letting anyone tell you you’re “less than” or “not enough” because you are so much more than that; you are so worthy and you are so enough.
Being yourself means being open and vulnerable. It means not fearing being known. It means being honest with both your loved ones and with yourself.
Being yourself means not conforming to others’ expectations of you. It means being who you want to be, not who other people think you should be.
Being yourself means you have the capacity to change. It means that what may be true one second or week or year may not be true the next. It means that no one else can tell you what you’re doing is “wrong” simply because it’s different from what you used to do.
Being yourself means being authentic, genuine, real. It means being okay with stumbling and with the messy bits of life.
Being yourself means finding freedom. It means not being trapped behind a false façade. It means not being scared to be found.
Being yourself means not trying to be like somebody else. It means not seeking to emulate someone’s Instagram photos in order to get a taste of their “perfect life.”* It means knowing that copying what makes your friends special won’t make you special, it’ll just make you a copy.
Being yourself means finding your truth, and reaching for it. It means getting rid of all the toxins, the lies, the negativity and living in the light, stepping into the sun.
Being yourself means embracing what is different about you and running full speed ahead, not looking back or second guessing if you did something the “right way” because when it comes to being yourself, there is no right way. It’s just being you.
Being yourself means accepting who you are—and loving yourself because of what makes you different, not in spite of it.
*Trying to copy someone’s every post in attempts of finding happiness in their life/actions/behavior instead of trying to find your own happiness in your own life is different than getting inspiration from photos or words, like on a Pinterest board
What does being yourself mean to you? Let me know in the comments below!