“Be yourself, everyone else is already taken!” Oscar Wilde
Be yourself! This is a phrase I have heard quite a few times from my dad especially when I am nervous around something. Although, I would nod in agreement every time, I would think of it as a vague adage.
I mean, what does “be yourself” actually mean? And what exactly is being yourself? How do you know if you are being yourself when you don’t even know what it means?
I am confused about this phrase every time I hear it. I always thought “being yourself” comes with self-awareness and self-awareness comes only with life experience. Implication being, when you have lived your life and experienced everything, it brings about a kind of self-awareness that inevitably lets you be yourself. This was my understanding of that phrase!
It was only after certain life events I learned how wrong I was of my understanding of the whole concept. And why my dad kept reminding me to be myself. Change, they say is inevitable. I wanted to change too, and “Be Myself!”
So the obvious question I had when I wanted to change was HOW?? How do I do this? OK, so I have decided to be myself, so far so good, but how on earth do I go about it? A long talk with my dad, a little bit of research and a little insight into my current myself gave me the answers! Here’s what I put together to become myself!
- Accept your Current Self and Move on!
Whatever the reason maybe to change, the first step in that direction is to accept your current self. In most cases, we want to change because we are not happy with ourselves, or we feel there is an urgent need to improve. What I learned was that it is not possible unless you sit down, and reflect on who you are and who you once were.
When that realization comes to you, accept it as it is. Accept what you have learned about yourself whatever it may be. Once you accept it, understand that it is time to move on. Do not be fixated on the past!
- Stop being a People Pleaser!
Stop being a people pleaser – as easy as it is to say this, I found it to be the most challenging! Especially if you are a person who is used to being a people pleaser like me. I am a people pleaser, approval from my loved ones was very important to me and in order to win that approval I would go that extra mile. One would think what is wrong with going the extra mile, isn’t that good? Isn’t that how relationships are supposed to be?
Yes, that is how it is supposed to be, until going the extra mile becomes typical! When it becomes a norm, it means that you are overdoing it and need to take a step back. Not just to save your own sanity but also to save that relationship!
The moment you stop doing things solely to please someone, you start acting and reacting to situations honestly. By displaying that kind of honesty, you are merely being ‘You’!
- You don’t have to be them!
Just because they are successful, just because it worked for them or just because they seem to be happy, doesn’t mean that you have to blindly follow them. We are always advised to learn from the successful ones, we are always told to follow them. Well, I say, learn from their mistakes but follow your own path!
If something worked well for one person, it is not necessary that it has to work for us too. Having that kind of expectation will only lead us in the wrong direction, we may think that doing everything they did exactly how they did should bring us the happiness and success too. Sadly that is never the case. First and foremost agree with yourself on what it is that you are seeking and then work towards carving your own path that you feel will take you closer to that success or dream you seek!
- This is a Journey and it will take time!
There are lots of things that can happen overnight, but making that change to being yourself is not one of them. This is a journey of self-realization, self-acceptance, forgiving ourselves and then moving in the path of being that person we dream of being. As is the case with any journey, it is time-consuming and needs utmost patience and perseverance!
“Being yourself” does not necessarily mean being different to everyone else; it can mean taking little pieces from others that fit with the type of person you dream of becoming. It is part of growing up and being challenged by different types of situations highlights our independent strengths and weaknesses that will inevitably make us who we are.
While these are guidelines that I try to follow to “being yourself”, there are no distinct set of rules or a template that conditions how we can go about it to change ourselves.
Possibly the phrase is trying to express that no one in this world is you but yourself so learn to take pride in it. Maybe we should stop confusing people, by saying, “be yourself” and replace it with something more inspiring like, “be the person you want to become.”
Perhaps, that is what Oscar Wilde is trying to represent via this quote!