“Be yourself, everyone else is already taken” — Oscar Wilde
I have this quote on a pillow at my entryway, it’s a great way to remind myself that I need to be true to me. I should not be ‘doing’ what others expect me to, unless it’s what I want to do!
Buried in Expectations
Many of us take on roles that are what others expect of us, but if we were really honest, many of those roles were just that, ‘roles’. We figured out what we were expected to look like, to do or be, and we submerged who we were under the ‘who others think we should be’ category.
I know I’m guilty of this, what about you? How often have you done something because you worry about the image you’ll project if you’re not the ‘perfect’ colleague/wife/mother (take your choice)?
It takes courage and commitment to move beyond the mindset of worrying about what others think and sharing what we truly want to do or be. We struggle with being ourselves, after many years of shaping ourselves into what we are told or think others want us to be.
The Unique You
I believe what Oscar Wilde meant is that being yourself is the best way you can take care of yourself, which in turn will allow you to do those wonderful things you’ve always dreamed of!
When we are truly ourselves, we show our uniqueness to the world. People believe in us because they know the person we present is truly who we are, flawed, authentic and incomparable.
We forget that we are a result of different sets of genes inherited from our family of origin and that there is no one exactly like us – even twins are different, each with distinctive characteristics.
We have different ways of learning, different ways of thinking, and yet we judge ourselves if we think differently from others in the group we have chosen – how crazy is that!
Being authentic doesn’t mean that we have to be narcissistic. Rather, it means we should be clear on our values and beliefs. It means knowing both our strengths and weaknesses and being okay with them. It means sometimes putting ourselves first, being selfish to be selfless.
Have you ever done something that didn’t quite align with who you are, but did it because it was expected of you? How did you feel afterward?
When we go against our values, we take an emotional hit. It may not be visible to others, but it sure feels bad. If we continue to go against who we are, those emotional hits can fester, and take on the form of addiction or even disease.
Being true to ourselves is a form of self-care, it is a way of saying we matter. If we don’t take care of ourselves, why should we expect others to treat us well?
Being ourselves may not make us the most popular person on the block, but it allows us to live a more open and honest life. The great thing about moving beyond 60 is that we care less about what others think of us.
So, how can you move beyond the habit of trying to live up to the expectations of others?
Start by Looking Inside Yourself
Get to know the real you. Look at the values you hold: Are they truly what you believe or have you just held onto them because they were the values your parents held? What about the beliefs you have about yourself and who you are – are they true or are they self-limiting?
One of the scariest things I did this year was ask a dozen people to describe me in three words – it was enlightening, and also wonderful. Being vulnerable and open to feedback can be very energizing.
Accept yourself and who you are – faults and all. This can be difficult, you’ve conformed for so long whether it’s to your parents, your peers or society, it’s difficult to change and become who you really are inside.
You’re used to hiding your inner self, accepting others’ beliefs about who and what you should be. You’ve even told yourself negative things about your desires and dreams.
Seek change, and remember: you can’t just dream of change, you need to take action – one small step at a time. Work out what’s important to you and make a plan.
Set goals that excite and inspire you, but ensure they are realistic. For instance, if you want to work out each day and decide you need to get up extra early to do it, but are not a morning person, that won’t work so well for you.
Speak Your Truth
Think before you speak. What are your truths? Deal with conflicts, and let others know how you think and/or feel. While initially this may surprise them – and you may lose friends – it allows you to be who you truly are.
Go for what you want in life, pick yourself up when you fall down – because you will – and move forward. The strongest people I know are those who have failed and who have picked themselves up and tried again.
Lean into Your Fear
There’s nothing wrong with being afraid. Having the courage to face your fear, turn it upside down, inside out and using it, is to empower. When you face your fear, when you feel and express it, you can move through it and come out the other side stronger and more fearless!
Celebrate Who You Are
Honour who you really are, appreciate yourself and what you bring to this World. Be proud of your uniqueness, be generous and take time to share your gifts. Others will be glad that you did!
Have you ever conformed to others’ expectations of you? Or are you one of those people who were able to stand up and express their own opinion? Are you on the road of becoming the real you? Please share your stories of becoming reacquainted with yourself.