“To be yourself in a world that is constantly trying to make you something else is the greatest accomplishment.”
– Ralph Waldo Emerson
Why is the simple act of “being yourself” so complicated?
From the time we are old enough to observe our surroundings, we see patterns of behaviour that become the roadmap for how we are to communicate and how we should act. We either accept the rules passively or feel resistance towards them, depending on our personality and will. Rejecting typically brings consequences. But so does accepting.
We get swifter consequences when we are non-compliant. However, constant obedience, though it gets us into less trouble with our parents and siblings, is a sure-fire way to never know “self.” To accept and mimic what others do works only for awhile. If compliance becomes our guiding principle, we struggle to gain a clear sense of self later in life. The moment we are old enough to move beyond our own front door, other patterns emerge before us, and we begin to understand that our own family isn’t necessarily an example of how the rest of the world lives.
Then what? For the more independent child, this is an intriguing adventure; but it brings up a whole different experience for the easy-going, follower type.
Maturity piques our original nature. As adolescence and young adulthood come around we experience confusion or clarity, and we are presented with our own puzzle to solve. When we hear, “Be yourself,” the concept typically elicits one of two memories: being reprimanded for disobeying the rules, or praised for our pleasant, agreeable personality.
Those of us who were non-compliant as children must find a way back to our own voice, and learn to use it wisely, with the strength of our own resolve. The people-pleasers amongst us need to find our own voice, perhaps for the first time, and learn to own it with confidence.
The deeper part of us knows the choices we have to make. But where to begin? How do we deviate from family rituals and standards that do not resonate with how we feel inside? Which ones do we hang onto?
The fork in the road presents a multitude of questions.
Who am I? Why am I here? What do I really want? What is good, and what is bad? How do I choose my own path without causing pain for someone else? How much should I even care? Is there a hidden path I am supposed to find and follow? What will happen if I take the road less travelled? Which road is the fool’s path? Should I take the easiest route? What are the consequences in each choice I make?
At the end of the day, the choice that matters is the one that is made solely by you, for you, independent of the good opinion of others.
I recently found the following quote by B. R. Ambedkar (1891-1956) social reformer and law minister for newly Independent India, that is refreshing and relevant to my topic today:
“Unlike a drop of water which loses its identity when it joins the ocean, man does not lose his being in the society in which he lives. Man’s life is independent. he is born not for the development of the society alone, but for the development of his self.”
Be still. Listen within. Trust universal intelligence that continues to pulsate throughout your being. As your heart beats in perfect rhythm, intentionally relax into the flow. Let go of worry. Release the need to know exactly how things will transpire. Make your choices based on what you know NOW, and let the way forward present new guideposts. Trust yourself. Embrace life. Be gentle with yourself. Spend as much time as you can doing what you enjoy. Love your body. Cherish your mind. Enjoy who you are, just as you are. Embody your uniqueness, and wear it like an exuberant crown.
Being yourself in a world that is constantly trying to make you something else means hearing and owning your own inner voice. It means speaking your truth, regardless of who will agree with you or not. Do not be so caught up in the voices of those around you that the nudge of your own soul becomes barely audible to you.
When you stand in the busyness of your day, remember to catch moments of sweet escape. Focus on the view out the window now and then. Let all of it percolate in your inner being-ness until you are able to give it your own flavor.
May you feel inspired today, in All Ways.
All Ways Inspired