Be yourself is a phrase that is quite possibly the most commonly used phrase in the history of advice. Be yourself. It’s such a vague adage. What do they really mean when they tell you to be yourself? And is it really as easy as it sounds?
- Find yourself and define yourself on your terms. Oscar Wilde once said with his usual wit: Be yourself; everyone else is already taken. As humorous as this might seem, it’s a basic summation of the truth. Yet, you can’t be yourself if you don’t know, understand, and accept yourself first. It should be your primary goal to find this out. Find the time to dwell upon what you value and take time to consider what makes up the essence of who you are. As part of this, contemplate your life and choices. Try to think about what kinds of things you would or wouldn’t like to do, and act accordingly; finding out through trial and error helps more than you might think it does. You can even take personality tests, but be careful to only take what you want from them so that you do not let such tests define you. Instead, ensure that the defining you do is based on your own terms and is something you feel absolutely comfortable with. You may feel self-conscious, but over time if you are around the right type of people for you, they will accept you for who you are. And love and start to look at the real you.
- Avoid fixating on the past and not letting yourself grow. One of the most unhealthy approaches to being oneself is to make a decision that who you are is defined by a moment or period of time, after which you spend the rest of your life trying to still be that person from the past rather than someone who is still you but grows with the passing of each season and decade. Allow yourself this space to grow, to improve, to become wiser. And allow yourself to forgive past errors and past behaviors you’re not so proud of. Work on accepting mistakes and choices you’ve made; they’re done and in the past. You had your reasons for them and the decision made sense at the time, so instead of harnessing yourself to past mistakes, allow yourself to learn their lessons and continue to grow.