“To be yourself in a world that is constantly trying to make you into something else is the greatest accomplishment.” -Ralph Waldo Emerson
When I was younger I never cared for self-presentation. I simply did what I wanted. I was wild and free; bold and daring. Whatever I wanted to do, I did it. And I didn’t notice or care what others thought about what I did. Enter adulthood. Now a days, I’m watching my six to see who’s listening, watching, or judging. Social circles are complicated. Since I started learning about the social scenes, I’ve picked up on a few things; in particular the watching, listening, and judging which everyone does. Which is ok. Really, it is okay. We are human, it happens and there’s no way around it. So what’s the secret to being yourself?
Have you wondered that very question? I know countless people who have said that when they were younger they didn’t give a rip! They put themselves out there in ways they wouldn’t dare now. So what is it that happens that causes us to shut down? In short, I think its two things happening simultaneously. One, when others judge us (past or present) and they’re wrong, we feel misjudged. Two, we get so insecure about them judging we slowly cut back. (Next time, pull it back a bit…that was too much I guess.) So over time, we do not express the slightest bit of who we are.
What’s the problem with that? Isn’t being socially acceptable a good thing? I’m just being well-tempered, and trying not to stir things up. Unless you want to be background music at your own party, it’s not ok. The problem is this: You are valuable. Your thoughts, ideas, and experiences are valuable. And when you shrink back, and shrink back some more, and shrink back yet again—you belittle yourself and lose yourself to the idea someone wants you to be. Eventually, you wonder why you were ever born! Your sense of purpose becomes lost and your passion goes dormant deep inside of you. (Side note: People are searching for passion and purpose on a daily basis. I believe this is why we don’t feel it or know it. Because we are essentially hiding all that we are.)
Judy Garland once said, “Always be a first rate version of yourself and not a second rate version of someone else.” Good wisdom! But how do we practically be a “first rate version of ourself” in a world where everyone’s trying to mold you into their image of you. I’ll admit, it’s easier at times to close up, laugh when everyone laughs, get food when everyone gets food, fumble when they fumble, and so on. You know the awkward moments to which I am referring. But you can’t anymore! This week, it is time for you to be yourself in the most practical of ways!
Here it is: You must think about who you are and refine it. What’s at play is your self-presentation. How you deliver who you are to others. Commit to saying or doing what is in your heart to do or say. One rule though: Think before you do it. Jump ahead five minutes in your head, how will that go for you?
We are all very good at being ourselves when we are alone. The art of being yourself around others is more difficult to accomplish, I think. It takes time to develop the skill of being yourself around others because there are more variables. Can you believe that? You have passion and hidden talents that ought to be valued by you first. Don’t throw your pearls out on the grass so people can trample them, wear them around your neck. You are precious. Take time to be smart about how you present yourself.
Week 40 of Be The Change is about playing with your talents, discovering your passion again, and expressing yourself intelligently. When you are in a room full of people don’t rush to find a “comfortable” closed off way to go about. Express who you are in a way that is so satisfying that you’ll want to do it more and more!
Be Patient. Be strategic. Be thoughtful. Be Yourself.
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