One of the most multidimensional advice someone can give you, and mind you, people mostly rake out this complicated abstract piece of advice in a casual-profound tone, is ‘be yourself’. I have often been super confused whenever somebody would ask me to be myself. How to be successful? Be yourself. How to ace an interview? Just be yourself. How to spend your life? By being yourself. There’s this entire commercial industry full of life advises, holistic life-approach coaches and career counselors instrumentally and religiously teaching you how to be someone else, and when you successfully master the 9/10 points on how to be someone else, the 10th point is to be yourself. What the hell?! If that doesn’t deploy fits of existential crisis in you, what does?
Who am I, again? What does ‘being myself’ imply? Do I like being myself? Am I even supposed to identify with one sense of self? I’m not sure if you understand but the most confusing part for me is, exactly which ‘sense of self’ are you referring to? Not to correlate the subject of multiple personality disorder, but are we even supposed to have a one dimensional personality? Let me non-spiritually break it down for you. There is a sense of self, that I am: thinking, feeling, observing, judging in the head. There is a self that I somewhat loathe, the one procrastinating, getting rejected, being dumb when she’s not supposed to be, sort of fickle minded and indecisive in general. There is a sense of self, I know I can be, in an ideal world, the one who is reasonably logical, stable in the head and can be ambitious while maintaining healthy interpersonal relationships. Then there are about 253 overlapping contradictory selves who insist on being vain, materialistic, spiritual, philanthropic, rebellious, wicked and nice at the same time. I’m not sure how that would work out. But I’m assuming you understand that the human mind isn’t a one track cattle-affair.
What’s important to understand is, how we derive the sense of self and our aspirations of identifying who we are. We are mostly a collection of the society’s aspirations and respond either favourably or extremely against it. Aren’t we a collection of the goals that our parents sold to us at a young age by comparing ourselves with the neighbour’s kids? Aren’t we somewhat inclined towards being what our friends think is cool? Don’t we subconsciously try to emulate the rad fictional anti-heroes in a TV series that we watched? Or a book that we read? Is there any stark individuality to us at all? Or does the individuality lie in choosing appropriate combinations of what we want and how we express ourselves socially?
I am perceived differently by various people. And if everybody I know, got together and start talking about me, I’m sure they’d be confused if it’s the same person they’re talking about. I have a rude and arrogant side highlighted to some, calm and assertive to others, lazy, funny and irresponsible to few, harebrained and wannabe to the major population. The question is, who do I be when I’m asked to be myself? I’m not one particular self at all!
Are you still telling me that ‘be yourself’ is as easy as it sounds? Are we really prepared to deal with someone in the raw sense of who they are, at all? Or even ourselves? Are we willing to realize who we are and who we want to be? What if who we are, organically, is non-conformational to the social norms? Are you then willing to do what it takes to be yourself? Being oneself 24 hours a day can get very exhausting once you realize that the friends you usually hang out with aren’t the ones you actually like but you’re somewhat there for the fear of missing out. Your ideals in life would most definitely redefine itself and you won’t seem as conventionally happy as you’ve been told you should be. Knowing more about yourself comes with a steep social price, you’ll identify very less with the trends and more with what you really want, and what you really want , in most cases, might not be very popular or might not be appreciated. You will not perpetually smile and be impressed by celebrities and what they say. You’ll grow a mind of your own, over-think, and struggle with the lack of thoughtfulness in others. The interviewer does not want you to be yourself, in the profound sense of the word, he wants you to do the fucking job. Infact, almost nobody really wants you to be yourself! They want you to fit in a system cohesively. Or fit in their ideals of a perfect relationship. They don’t want you to stand out or question it. Therefore, If you’re prepared for a lifetime of nihilistic scepticism, sure be yourself, but if you’re not, kindly don’t attempt at being yourself. It’s an exhaustingly lonely journey, with too many unpopular lifestyle choices that wouldn’t get you appropriate social validation.