You Do You, & I’ll Do Me.
4 Ways to Be Yourself You Need to Know.
Trying to be authentic is often more difficult than we think. It can be a battle for self-acceptance these days. Just jump on Instagram or Snap chat and you are bombarded by images of what you should be like, live like and feel like. It can get rough out there trying to define a sense of self. To cope, we can try to adapt. Change how we look, based on our idols or popular trends. Follow a band or song, even though we don’t really like it, but because the person we like does. Wear fashion labels, not because we love the look, but because others do. These types of actions are common. And we all have done it to a degree. I know I have (still not sure those dreadlocks in the late 80’s did really make me look like Boy George, but I gave it a good hot go).
Look, it’s fine to stretch your boundaries and experiment with superficially different versions of who you are (technically called adolescents by the way). We have all succumbed to peer pressure at some point. Not just how we look or with our style, but part of moving into adulthood is to test what we really believe in (that old moral fiber). Peer groups are brilliant at forcing us to realise what we stand for, often in the wrong ways. Having said that if you are an adult now, it’s probably time to consolidate a sense of who you are. It’s not healthy if you continue to keep moving your values, ethics, opinions and beliefs depending on who you are hanging out, working with, dating or wanting to date with. You might get lost and forget who you were in the beginning. It’s like trying on so many new outfits you can’t remember which one fit you the best anymore.
Being a chameleon is a side effect of this behaviour. It is a behaviour describing how we can get caught up in changing our colours depending on who you are with and what you believe they want from you. Don’t get me wrong here, chameleons can be beautiful. The adaptation to change in order to blend in with their surrounds is a survival strategy, an evolutionary gift to trick predators into not noticing them. As humans, this can be a driving force too. If this was the case, ask yourself do you still need to be a chameleon. Is whatever you were hiding from even relevant anymore? Has the need to blend in passed and become a habit?
To have a true sense of identity and authenticity you need to know who you are and face the world in that skin.
Why not just do you?
Why not invest in yourself and let others be who they need to be. Maintaining a false or in authentically created self-image is hard to maintain over time. Yes, that version of self you are dissing, will rear up and make their presence known. It is only a matter of time. Even actors drop out of character, so don’t think you won’t too. And probably at the worst moment. That’s when people around you look at you oddly, don’t understand where the other version went and start to pull away. It is why some relationships break down and you look at the person you love as if you never knew them.
Not knowing who you are is a deal breaker if you want success and happiness. So how about you do you, I’ll do me and let them do them?
Here’s how to start.
Be the Opposite to Approval -Seeking.
Move your line of sight away from what everyone else thinks of you and narrow it down to what you think of yourself. (If your self esteem gets in the way here, have a read of my article 5 Tips to Transform Self Fear into Self-Esteem). You are never going to please everyone and not everyone is going to like you. (Say that a few times to get the message and accept it). Your best bet to reach success and happiness, is to become approval aware (be aware of what others think of you but don’t let those opinions determine how you feel about yourself.) Approval seeking is focused on your intention to win approval and respect from other people. What is amazing is we are drawn towards, admire and respect the opposite of approval seeking. We prefer people who are authentic to themselves than others who try to be something they are not.
Have an opinion.
It is an important part of being unashamedly you to have an opinion. Better yet, know why you have that opinion. If it is just because someone you know thinks that way, or a famous personality has a point of view you are attaching to, because they are famous, then you’re in for some rocky roads ahead. How will you defend your position if you don’t know why you took it in the first place? An opinion is an idea that defines part of who you are. Of course, just be wise how you voice an opinion (unsure? Read my 12 Tips to Courageous Communication). It should be about letting people know what you stand for, not creating conflict or making someone feel uncomfortable. Having an open-mind and being able to learn from differing opinions is a strength. Don’t confuse this with being a pushover or sticking to your guns for the sake of being stubborn. Understand why your opinions are important to you and be able to adapt, if it feels right. It is healthy to change your mind if it is authentic to who you really are, not just to give in or to appease others.
Be different or don’t be different.
You do you, is not to be misinterpreted as if you have to stand out in the crowd or draw attention to the fact you are different. Just focus on being you and let others do their thing. Stop trying so hard to be something and relax in the knowledge you already are a something. You. Your angle to this is you are unique. There is no one like you, so why try to copy something already out there. Define your uniqueness and celebrate your difference, whatever that looks or feels like. Your difference may be the way you look, your style, your disability, your intellect, your emotional potential, your ability to love, your drive, your success and your failures. It may be obvious or invisible. The point is it is unique to you.
Watch out for the Biatch.
How do ‘you do you’, if people around you are always negative about who you are, what you do and how you look. Answer? Get some new friends. It is too hard to build an anchor for your identity if it is constantly being challenged in a negative way. Start listening to the commentary around you. Do your friends celebrate who you are or are they very quick to point out what is wrong with you, how you should change, what way you would look better? Are you liked because you have a point of difference that makes you unique? We are drawn like moths to the flame by confidence and yet we can fear it in people around us because it makes some of us feel inadequate. Don’t do things because others are encouraging you (often for their own entertainment or fear you may become confident), especially if it is against your values and morals. Walk away. Stand proud and defiant. Don’t give in if it makes you cross a line from being true to yourself to a fake. Don’t agree or be submissive if someone is rude, offensive or a biatch to you, in order to make you feel insignificant and they feel superior. If your friends have too much biatchitude, time to move on and find people who will celebrate you and be happy who they are too.
Let’s grow out of being the chameleon. The way of existing that took hold in adolescence so we could gain acceptance, fit in and deliver the kind of image we think others would like. Stop watering down your identity. Who wants to fade from being unique and become another nobody tossed off the production line of sameness? Don’t be a product, you do you.