"It takes courage to grow up and become who you really are..." ee.cummings
Who are you really? I was talking with someone the other day about the challenges that can be present in being true to ourselves. This can be especially tricky if we are in a setting where we are expected to behave in a particular way, or respond to a person in a way that we might have in the past, even though this way may no longer suit us personally. The most obvious example here is the way in which grown adults will continue to play into family roles and expectations in the presence of other family members. These ways of being will usually have their genesis in the person's childhood. If you think about someone for instance, who as a child was the overly responsible older sibling, or the goofy and disorganised youngest child, even now as adults, you'll see evidence of those early-life personas.
The bottom line is that we are all complex beasts, full of contradictions. This means that we probably spend huge chunks of our lives trying to be true to ourselves, trying to be our real selves (whatever or whomever we might believe that to be), whilst only feeling successful at this some of the time. Maybe though, it is unrealistic to think that we have just one solid and consistent persona that is constant across all parts of our lives, and that whoever we interact with and in whatever setting, we present to all of them in a totally consistent way , and interact in exactly the same manner. The reality is that most of us probably have a reasonably constant core self, but we learn to tweek things around the edges, depending on who we are with, or what we think is expected of us in a particular setting. In other words we are probably a little different in different contexts and with different people, and that is OK. Actually the key to whether or not it really is OK is quite simple and it's this: if we do not feel compromised or false, if we don't feel we are putting on an act (not all the time, anyway), then we probably are OK, and we probably are being reasonably true to ourselves.
Anyway, for those who want to be more focused on being true to themselves (most of us at some stage), there are some points about this below:
1) Care less about what other people think of you. Sure, this is an easy thing to say, but harder to do. But notice too that I didn't suggest that you give this up completely, as the reality is that this can be a difficult thing to do, as what others think of us starts to become ingrained very early on in life. And in the end, we need to be influenced in some ways, by what others think of us - otherwise the world would be a completely scary and chaotic place, with everyone doing exactly what they want. However many of us spend way too much time labouring over what others think about us, to the point that it can become futile. One very important reason that it's futile, is that each person we encounter will think something slightly different about us anyway (ask twelve different people to describe the Mona Lisa to you, and sure as eggs, you will wind up with twelve different descriptions). The bottom line is, that it is not realistic or reasonable to have everyone like you, or always think positively of you - as all your critics and all your supporters see the world (and you) through slightly different lenses. Which is as it should be. So if we can't be sure that everyone else will love us - we should at least have a good shot at loving ourselves. As the saying (reality is it's become a real cliche - but it's still holds true) goes, you cannot really love anyone else until you love yourself..
2) Have a bigger voice and disagree more often. You'll probably notice that people who are more at ease with themselves, who are truer to themselves, are more likely to have a voice regarding matters they do not agree with. They do not just go along with things they are not in favor of, and then quietly complain to others afterwards. Having a bigger voice can be a challenge - especially if part of your early conditioning in life was to be agreeable and to not rock the boat. People who always go with the flow usually wind up pleasing others first- and this is not being true to themselves. Plus, they can lose sight of themselves in the process. We can have a bigger voice without being argumentative or obnoxious - speaking out more on your own behalf will not mean that you will suddenly have heaps of conflict coming your way. And people will usually respect us if we have a bigger voice, even if they won't always agree with us. And when I say, have a bigger voice - don't get this mixed up with pure complaining and whining. Remember when your mother told you that nobody likes a whiner? She was right.... There is a big difference between clearly stating your views about something in an assertive way, versus whining about something just for the sake of complaining.
3) Worry less about your appearance or what you look like. You might wish you were a different size or shape because you believe someone might be happier with you, or be more approving of you. You might want to be taller/shorter/thinner/fatter, with blue/green/hazel eyes, and straight/curly/long/short hair . Sure, some of these attributes might be better for your health, who knows? But chances are that those supposedly more desirable features that we get so bogged down with aspiring to achieve, without ever quite getting there, are likely to have been foisted on to us by a whole lot of bigger external influences which do not have our own personal interests or beliefs at heart... And I fully get the idea that is so easy for me to sit here, and say worry less about your appearance - but we can test these ideas: for instance what would would a week of your life look like, if you did not give a toss about what you wore, because you got dressed in the dark each morning? And would you still enjoy your evening in an expensive restaurant wind up, if you didn't even bother to go and check at the end of the meal, whether or not you had spinach in your teeth?
Our true self emerges the more we are at peace with being in our own skin - or the greater tolerance we can have for our green teeth...
"Some occasional thoughts about families, relationships, and other things that distract us...."