Common advice for people is just to be themselves. Usually given to people who struggle in certain situations. Widely given to people going on a first date for example.
In that moment you are truly being yourself, because telling someone how you don’t know how to act on your first date is the truth, and this is truely you. You could be scared of meeting the other person or worried they will not like you or the fear of rejection. So being your “normal” self will never happen. We put different faces on for different situations. We all do this.
There’s an old Japanese quote that I really like “where we walk through life wearing three different masks. The first face you show to the world, the second face you show to your close friends and your family and the third face, you never show anyone.” It’s the truest reflection of who we are.
Let’s take this example and you are being yourself, so you should show the person you like your second face, however that person belongs to the first mask, because you don’t know them, or even trust them. Human nature, and our defence mechanisms kick in and we show the face that we think they will like.
So, you need to become someone new in order to show a different side of yourself when it matters. Effectively everyone uses the “fake it till you make it” strategy. I have spoken before how dangerous this can be. However even if you fake it, you will eventually want to become the new persona you are showing to the world.
For example, your shy but you really would love to be able to talk to people. So, you lie and fake being an extrovert so you can talk to people. So, the more you do this the easier it will get to talk to people and soon it will be normal practice for you. So, talking to people will become your new reality. You are not yourself anymore, you are someone else.
So, this is why that advise of being of yourself is wrong. We all have it in us to do amazing things. This applies to all areas of your life, the biggies being your health, wealth, and relationships. Even to be rich you have to have the habits to bring you there, it will not magically manifest if you are laying on the couch all day. You need to develop. I found reading “Atomic Habits” by James Clear a good way to start. I have started making small habits in my life and they are now common practices of my everyday life. I am evolving every day, however it doesn’t mean you are those things until you have put them to the test. Make sense?
In any scenario in life, you are never yourself and the advice to just be yourself is lazy advice and people trying to make you feel good about yourself. Take the truth at face value. I am far from perfect, but I’m aware I have work to do and knowing this allows me to understand my weakness, and that’s important.
My advice for what it’s worth, focus on the things in your life you need to improve (we all have them). If you have a fear of something, learn the skill to get past it. I have a fear of heights, climbing up anything is easy but coming back down is scary for me. I started rock climbing and going to Dalkey Quarry is a great place to learn. You do your climb; you get to the top and there is a walkway back down. Easy. However, on a climb in Wicklow, I got to the top and there was no walkway down. Simple solution you step off the top and you are lowered down. However, stepping off was the difficult part. But I knew I had the skills to do this (a very experienced climber lowering me down.) And therefore, I achieved it. I am a different person now, I can’t say I will never be able to do that, because I can, and I did.
Get the things you want in life, find the motivation, and slowly morph the motivation into habits that will become life skills.
Don’t just be who you are right now, be whoever you want to be. There is so much of you, you need to discover. And remember have fun and hurt no one on your journey.