Me, myself, and I.

How hard is it to be yourself?

‘Just be yourself.’

How many times have we heard, or even given, that advice? Just. It makes it sound so easy, so simple. Is that your experience, that it’s easy and simple to be yourself? Do you even know your authentic self behind all the façades that most of us make to adapt and survive in life?

 

‘Stay in line’

The pressure to conform is immense. It comes from family and the local community, from media and society.

Let’s state right here that some of those norms and rules we have in society are good for us. Many have become enshrined as rights or laws. For example, a child should have an education. That is now recognised as a human right and is supported by law. It doesn’t mean, however, that there is only one way to be educated. I’m not going to get into that one here, partly because I can already hear the hornets buzzing in their nests.

 

Hair. How many hairdressers are there in your neighbourhood or town? There are magazines, products, advertising … haircare is an industry estimated to be worth over 85 billion dollars (Source) because you’re worth it, as if my hair products can dictate my worth.

However, your hair style says a lot about you.

Where I live, local women of certain ages generally have the same haircut. The girls have long hair, until their first communion, then most have chin to shoulder length bobs. The mid to late teens mostly have long hair, but once they hit the mum zone and older, it’s cut shorter again with the older ladies having the shortest hair.

Except for the gypsies. There is a large gypsy community in what is a relatively small town. Nearly all the gypsy women have long hair, even the grandmas.

It’s a trivial example, but we have those norms around us from every angle like a force squeezing us into a shape dictated by someone else. Fashion, health, religion, politics, education, class, housing, breakfast cereal! For every aspect of our lifestyle, there is someone telling us how we should be. If that is the case, how can we be ourselves?

‘Who do you think you are?’

This is a whip-crack of a comment, often to put someone ‘in their place’. If I asked you who you are, what reply would I get? Maybe you would list name and number, or job title, or family status. It’s not an easy question and one that the answer could be fashioned differently to, depending on who was doing the asking, or what outcome we want.

‘Ogres are like onions … Onions have layers, ogres have layers’ (Shrek.) They’re not the only ones.

There is the ‘me’ that the world sees.

There is the ‘me’ that I think of me.

Then there is me, the me at the centre of my being that, under it all, will always be me.

The ones that are often most comfortable being their true ‘me’ are children. Most children haven’t built up a callous of coping mechanisms and filters through which they connect with the world around them. It’s why children can sing in supermarkets and adults don’t (out loud anyhow!)

 

I am an unashamed movie geek, hence the Shrek quote and was anyone else thinking of the supermarket dance scene in ‘Sing’ after reading the above?

 

In the movie ‘Hitch’, Will Smith is Alex Hitchins, New York’s own ‘date doctor’ who has a tried and tested system to make sure the everyman on the street can get the woman of his dreams.

I love the line: “ ‘You’ is a very fluid concept right now.” He moulds the guys that come to him for help into what he thinks they need to be like in order to get the girl.

Yet he has met his match in the desperate, but irrepressible Albert.

Go watch the movie. I won’t spoil it for you if I say that his careful plans are not what wins the day, in his own or Albert’s life.

It takes courage to be ourselves because it can go against other’s perceptions of us, expectations of us, or in the case of Albert, other people’s well-meaning and seemingly sage advice.

But Albert being Albert won the day and the fair lady.

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Can you imagine a world where everybody is the same?

It would be dysfunctional!

Humanity is a wonderful symbiosis of unity and uniqueness. We can celebrate both what we have in common and what makes us individual and remarkable.

If I look at my friends, I can see that I value different qualities in each of them: one their vitality, another her kindness, the creativity in another, I enjoy another’s sense of humour and outlook. They all contribute to my life — and to the world — in their unique way. I know this, yet secretly I believe that they don’t need me, that I have little to offer them. Daft isn’t it?

The world doesn’t need another them, it needs a me and it needs a you.

Being ourselves doesn’t have to be a grand, extravagant gesture. It is sincerity in the way we live. It is when we stop suppressing or sacrificing who we are to the opinion of an external force.

Maybe you are kind — that’s your superpower — but you don’t want to seem weak at work. Be kind. You can be strong and kind.

· What’s your superpower?

· What have you always loved doing?

· What comes naturally to you?

· What do you keep hidden?

I dare you — no, I implore you — ask the questions and have the courage to meet yourself, welcome yourself, and be yourself.

I’ve been everybody else

Now I want to be someone closer to myself.

Kendall Payne

Singer Songwriter, "Closer To Myself"

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