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"Just be yourself"

From first dates to self-help seminars, the advice to "just be yourself" is common, but I think it is misused.

Don't get me wrong, I agree wholeheartedly that we should - but not for the reasons I, and many of you have been given.

  1. People will like you more. False. If you've been pretending to be someone you're not all this time, and you suddenly decide to be genuine, what will probably happen is that you'll drive those people away because, well, you've been lying to them, you've been disingenuous to them, and... they liked the facade, not this new person they're meeting. Think about it. If you had a friend in a racism support group who was secretly a Nazi, and they told you... They'd just be being themselves. But you liked the other guy who was, apparently, pretending not to like Nazis all this time. That's a tough hurdle. You'll also (eventually) attract people who like the real you because... that's who they met and decided to befriend in the first place. So yes, those people will like you more... because they like people who are like you.

  2. The girl will like you False. She may be attracted to your confidence and genuine nature, but ultimately she (and you) are going to be attracted to shared values with a smattering of mixed beliefs (and a nice tushie). So, the advice to just be yourself on a first date is good advice, but not because it will lead to a successful date - because it will lead to a genuine experience.

  3. You get to say whatever, as long as it's living your truth False. Being genuine and true to yourself isn't the same thing as being an asshole. You still need to take other people's feelings into consideration. Yes, it will mean that you occasionally take a hard stance (like distancing yourself from that Nazi friend we mentioned earlier) but it doesn't mean you get to be a dink to everyone.

  4. I get to neglect my health, because "that's just who I am". Nope! Whatever baggage or psychological hang-ups you have aren't "just being yourself" that's embracing and facilitating an ongoing weakness. If "who you are" was someone with vision problems, you'd still get glasses. Who you truly are is a healthy, vibrant, loving, caring person with a nice tushie. You might just be wrapped in some crap that you need to get rid of.

So, I hear you asking: Should I just be myself? Yes.

People who aren't themselves have a hard time accepting praise (or criticism) because the feedback isn't actually directed at them - but an odd caricature of them.

Being yourself means you get the full benefit of feedback (and yeah, it can sting a bit, but whatever, you'll grow and get better). It also means you get to be happily married with someone who truly gets you, understands you, and loves you for who you are.


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