What the hell is it to be yourself, and why would you want to?

Shh. Just between you and me, I have this blog see, called To Be Yourself. That kind of commits me to thinking about what the hell it means to be yourself. I’m pretty sure my subconscious did this to me on purpose.

Maybe this started when I was eleven, when I was shy and weird, and I decided it must be my mission in life to make up a personality to have, since I didn’t have one of my own. Or the awful years I spent faking it.

Maybe this started in the last few months, when I realized that even though I spent most of my life trying to scrub my personality down to something normal and eternally pleasant, my only chance at being happy and contributing something in life is to suddenly find me, and be it as accurately as possible in public.

It helps if you know where I’m coming from. So for me, being myself is my unicorn. Of all those big important questions in life, being myself is the one I keep hitting my head on. It’s the one I’m afraid of. It’s the single most painful and confusing question in life for me.

So it’s the one everything comes back to.

For starters, lets look at the opposing views.

On one side of the ring are those who say you have this perfect, unchanging inner self thing, and if you just be it, everything will be alright. All that meanness, darkness, and not-perfectness isn’t the real you (or maybe you’re just evil?).

On the other side are those who say that meanness and imperfection and darkness is just as much them as the happy fluffy stuff, but it’s dangerous to just be that whenever. So they conclude you shouldn’t always be yourself because being yourself can make life suck.

So What Is “Your Self”?

Is it perfect and unchanging? Is it messy and gritty and dark?

Is it alone or connected? Is it growing or complete?

Suffice it to say that humanity has spent the last several thousand years inventing bad answers to this question.

Here’s my solution: “What” is the wrong question.

Simon Sinek has made a pretty good point that humans don’t think in terms of what – we think in terms of why. And there is not much more human than being your self.

Buddha put it differently, but he had a good point to. If someone shot you with an arrow, would you want to know their grandmother’s maiden name and eye color, or would you just want them to pull out the damn arrow? Moral: questions about facts and substance aren’t as important as feeling good about life and making it work.

Why Be Yourself?

As it turns out, our opposing fighters have the same goal.

They both want life to work out. They want things to go well, and be happy, and have love and inner peace and adventure and health and integrity. All that good stuff.

Their argument is about whether being yourself will get you that.

How to Make Life Good

In my experience, there is one outlook that is capable of transforming all the bullshit in life into something good, meaningful, and useful.

Look at life as a learning experience.

Whether you’re learning about fun or suffering, friendship or loneliness, pain or pleasure, or any number of things, learning from the shit that happens to you is the best way to use it for the better.

Learning and growing lets you transform every experience into one of lasting value.

Be Yourself to Grow

That means that the best reason to be yourself is to add to the learning experience.

And to add to the learning experience of others.

& Change the World

Changing the world is a popular goal. Why is it so hard to pull off?

I think Ghandi said it: “Be the change you wish to see in the world.”

Changing the world requires changing yourself, changing how you see the world, and changing how you act on a daily basis. That is a lot more daunting than getting others to act different. It’s also more possible.

But, if you have to change, does that mean that what you are is wrong, or imperfect?


It means that you are growing.

Trees grow, but that doesn’t mean that, to grow, they suddenly have to transform in a cow. A growing tree is still the same tree, with the same features, the same unique quirks.

It just changes a little over time.

Why Integrity Matters

You can’t grow that much as a person if you can’t be the person you are.

Being real about what is going on in you is the only way to experience life as yourself. It’s the only way for your thoughts and emotions to make contact with the outside world, so you can see what happens. It’s the only way to learn about how things are and how they need to become.

Integrity brings a whole new realm of possibility and insight into ordinary life.

It’s that possibility and insight that lets you mold the life you want in a way that feels fulfilling.

And that’s why you might want to be yourself.

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