Life isn't about finding yourself. Life is about creating yourself.
George Bernard Shaw
Have you ever heard someone say something that caused you to blurt out a response without properly filtering it? It can lead to rather amusing reaction if you’re quick enough with your wit and your friends have a good mind for debate.
During a philosophical debate amongst friends, one of those present came out with the often overused comment “you just have to be yourself.” Looking straight at him, I asked a simple question…
“But what if you’re an asshole?”
We spend so much energy in trying to accept and project who we are, to find that elusive definition of ourselves. Yet, this entire notion is based on the idea that we can be defined in simple terms, as if we were some 2 dimensional flat characters from a badly written movie. It assumes that I know who I am, completely dismisses the idea of the multiple faces and selves we are, while at the same time ignores the notion that we are continuously changing and evolving.
Every time I hear “Be yourself” I am left with more questions than answers. Who am I to begin with? Before I can be myself, I have to find myself. This means that I have little control of who I am as a person, as who “I am” was a trait given to me. The fact that I can’t define it means I have to spend years “finding myself” first.
This brings up another wonderfully confusing question. “What self am I meant me to be?” You see, there are plenty of “self” based on the situation. And before you assume that I’m talking about walking around with masks or being deceitful, just consider how many selves do you have.
Are you the goofy Dad willing to make a fool of yourself while playing with your kid, or the serious professional who’s analytical and calculating during a business meeting? Are you the hard boiled badass when life needs you to tough it out or the emotional softy when opening up to your significant other? You can be all those things without any of them being a lie.
And the worst part of this idea is the notion about viewing “yourself” as a completed project, as an unevolving person. If you are an asshole, then you are left with little options other than embrace and accept it, since you have no other option. That makes as much logic as embracing being fat.
We create who we are. We create the self we want to be and work to reach that goal. You want to be a good father? BE a good father. You want to be a good husband? BE a good husband. You want to be a professional? BE a professional. Define the kind of man you want to be and work to reach that goal every day.
And before you even start with the notion that I am promoting not valuing who you are just because you work towards a better you, that’s not what I’m saying. Sure, you might be a good man, but never think you are good enough to not try to be better. Self-betterment isn’t Self-loathing. It’s quite the opposite; it’s loving who you are enough to want to make yourself into even more.
So instead of thinking you should “be yourself,” try to “be better” and “be more.”