Tuesday, July 8, 2014

Come As You Are

"You've got nothing to prove."

"Be yourself."

"It's your personality that really matters."

Sound familiar? We all know that these things are easier said that done. It's as though someone has flipped a switch in our brain to tell us, "Well, you can be yourself, BUT..." or "You've got nothing to prove, BUT...".

When it comes to who we are as individual people, it's easy to want to be 2.0 versions of ourselves. The simple truth of the matter is we are human. We are not made to be perfect, so why do we strive to be? That ingrained "but" clause negates anything that comes before it; i.e. we have difficulty simply "being ourselves" without adding anything on the end. For example:

"I'll be myself, BUT I need to lose 15 pounds."

"I'll be myself, BUT my age lines make me look older than 30 so I want to fix that."

"I'll be myself, BUT I need to have a prestigious career title first."

Today I'll bring a research component to my blog post. Karen Wright, author at Psychology Today, explores this concept in her article "Dare to Be Yourself." She states:
For many modern selves, the first shock of self-recognition marks the beginning of a lifelong search for the one "true" self and for a feeling of behaving in accordance with that self can be called authenticity. A hunger for authenticity guides us in every age and aspect of life. It drives our explorations of work, relationships, play, and prayer.
She continues to describe the idea of authenticity and how it relates to our mental health as individuals. I encourage you to peruse the article.

As a twenty-something, I know that embracing authenticity is difficult. In a society that is - dare I say it? - obsessed with conformist principles, being yourself is hard. Super hard, in fact. We are constantly bombarded with media messages that tell us how to look, how to dress, what to eat, what activities to enjoy, what's cool, what's uncool (and really, who gauges what "cool" means? It's subjective!), and so much more. It's no wonder we're confused! We're getting too much information and using that to process what "be yourself" means. We then base our definition on what everyone else is saying, and as Wright put it, our authenticity suffers.

Switching gears, I will tell you this: in my experience, "being yourself" means developing your values. What do you stand for? What do you care about? By developing what is important to you as an individual (and not what you think is important), you will be that much more authentic. "Being yourself" is more than the clothes you wear, or the things you do. It is a part of your very soul.

C.S. Lewis once stated, "We are what we believe we are."

You really do have nothing to prove. 

Come as you are.

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