To thine own self be true

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Rebecca Lolo

“Today you are you! That is truer than true! There is no one alive who is you-er than you!”  -Dr. Seuss

I’ve been observing people lately.  Watching people is interesting.  Have you ever been around a person who is so at home in their own skin that they are like a breath of fresh air on a hot and humid day?

It’s remarkable that so often people change their behavior when in a social setting as compared to when you’re with them one on one.  Some of this behavior is normal and goes with the territory of interacting in a larger group. 

What I saw a lot of as I observed individuals within a group was an increased desire to be seen, heard, noticed, but also to be a part of that group – to be accepted.  So many were trying so hard to fit in, be liked, or simply be seen for a bigger, better version of themselves.  It all had to do with what everyone else thought of them.

I often am impatient with this type of public posturing.  I wanted to yell out to them, “Who cares?  Does it really matter?”  I also wanted to tell them, “You don’t have to try so hard to be something you’re not.  You don’t have to try so hard to please others.  Just be you – the real you that I see when we talk together just you and me.”

Watching others made me think of the lyrics to the song “Try” by Colbie Caillat.  She sings:

 

“Put your make up on

Get your nails done

Curl your hair

Run the extra mile

Keep it slim

So they like you

Do they like you?

 

Get your sexy on

Don’t be shy girl

Take it off

This is what you want

 to belong

So they like you

Do you like you?

 

You don’t have to try so hard

You don’t have to give it all away

You just have to get up, get up, get up, get up

You don’t have change a single thing

…You don’t have to try

 

Get your shopping on at the mall

Max out your credit card

You don’t have to choose - buy it all

So they like you

Do they like you?

 

Wait a second

Why should you care what they think of you?

When you’re all alone, by yourself

Do you like you?

Do you like you?

 

You don’t have to try so hard

You don’t have to give it all away

You just have to get up, get up, get up, get up

You don’t have change a single thing

 

You don’t have to try so hard

You don’t have to bend until you break

…You don’t have to try

 

Take your make up off

Let your hair down

Take a breath

Look into the mirror at yourself

Don’t you like you?

Cause I like you”

  

Why do we worry so much about what others think of us?  Is there any actual tangible benefit that we receive from doing as the saying goes, to “just be yourself.”  Actually there is. 

Studies have found that when we are true to ourselves we are less stressed, more focused and accomplish more.  When we live true to ourselves and our values and beliefs we get stronger and are better able to walk our own road and focus on our goals and aspirations as opposed to what others may think we should do or be.

So why is it hard to be ourselves?  Why is it hard for us to let others be themselves?

It ‘s easy to conform because everyone is doing it.  It doesn’t take any effort to choose the easy road.  Therein lies the problem.  When you are busy doing what everyone else is doing, how can you be you?  It takes effort to be you – to know yourself and then act on it.  A friend of mine told me that her mother always taught her to do what was right even if she was the only one doing it.  She taught her that it’s better to walk alone than to walk down the wrong path with lots of company.  

Another challenge to being ourselves is the negative social feedback we can receive when we go against the norm.  I think we are all guilty of being judgmental of someone who is different or walks to their own beat. 

We’ve all experienced haters, detractors and those who insist on social conformity; sometimes we are the haters.  So, let’s all just relax a little more.  Be more accepting of people’s differences and uniqueness.  To each his own. 

Don’t be the crab in a bucket that pulls the other crab down when it tries to climb up the side of the bucket to escape.

So what can you do?  Look inside yourself.  Identify what’s important to you and see if your actions conform to your values and beliefs regardless of the perceptions of those around you.  Have the courage to be yourself and allow others to do the same. 

In the immortal words of Shakespeare, “This above all: to thine own self be true, and it must follow, as the night the day, thou canst not then be false to any man.”

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