Being Yourself or at Least Trying
January 4, 2007 Seems simple enough. Be yourself. Get up in the morning when you want, get dressed in the clothes you like, have the body you want, look the way you want to look, work where you like, talk to people you like, live the life that you want to live. Well, maybe not so simple. It seems to me that being yourself is a complicated subject. To begin with, it helps to know who you are antecedent to actually living a life consistent with your identity. Many of us women get stuck right here. Many of us define ourselves in relation to others ie, I'm such and such's daughter, sister, friend, mother, wife, girlfriend, colleague, etc. It's a bit intimidating to define ourselves individually, as a unique person in the world with a unique constellation of talents and abilities, personality traits and physical attributes, interests and needs. Many women aren't really encouraged to think this way, as an individual. Yet, that personal assessment is key to living in a harmonious state of being. Many women that I know, both well and not so well, are living in situations, working in environments, having friendships with others that aren't satisfying to them, or are downright stultifying. It can happen to any of us and does, more often than we would like to admit. So the next question is, how can I be myself and find myself doing things I don't want to do, looking the way I don't want to look, living my life the way I don't want to live it? I believe that a good part of the answer lies in the ongoing difficulty of actually being yourself, actively living in the world and at the same time, not allowing yourself to be engaged by those people or situations that can cause you to veer off your course. Or you find yourself having made decisions that, in retrospect, have impacted your life for long periods of time that are inconsistent with your fundamental sense of self. This can happen in the relationships that we choose throughout our lives, particularly long term ones. Some of us know the path we want to pursue when we're young and are able to follow it. Many more of us simply don't develop that compelling direction early in life and get carried along with the current of life, not really steering ourselves in a specific direction. And sometimes those that were on course, suddenly veer off, for whatever reason. It's this veering off that presents the challenges of being yourself, I think, because once you have veered off, it's very hard to achieve that harmony within yourself that I referred to above. You can find yourself living a life you may not like or want. Some of us are able to convert a wrong turn into a right situation. For example, taking a specific job in a company that in the cold light of day, doesn't really suit you, but quickly assessing the situation and identifying a better fit within the company or exiting instead of trying to force yourself to fit in. Like exiting a marriage before kids, not encouraging a friendship that you early on perceive will be troubled. Many of us get mired in situations that aren't consistent with the true self we know and it takes a long time to do something about it. Still, I think that it's better to act more in keeping with your self and to keep moving in that direction. As we get older, this becomes more complicated and usually involves more people than just yourself. Some of us change careers. Some of us move away to somewhere else. Some of us trade in husbands or wives. Or go back to school. And some of us don't have the luxury of even contemplating change, until their responsibilities (children, sick parents, etc.) change. My conclusion is that being yourself in the environment of your choosing is a function of having an ongoing and deep understanding of yourself coupled with an equally deep appreciation that decisions made early or hastily can redound for years to come. Of course, I haven't mentioned the issue of luck, a pivotal thing that no one can count on. But with luck, that's just it, you can't count on it. I don't have any answers, just observations at this point. What I'm doing now is very much involved with expressing yourself in your appearance and being more deliberate about the message that you are communicating. It's all part of having a keen awareness of ourselves and meeting the outside world face first. Stay tuned and thanks for visiting.