by Rachel Studer
When you ask for advice, the immediate answer is often, ‘just be yourself.’ Worried about a presentation? Just be yourself. Starting a new job? Just be yourself! But when it comes down to it, is ‘just be yourself’ really the best advice?
If we’re really being honest, you can never just ‘be yourself’ in everyday life. People are constantly changing their personality and demeanor based on the situation and who they are with. You have to be self aware of your surroundings, and know the environment you’re in; other people have feelings too, and if the only thing you are worried about is ‘being yourself’ then you are totally missing the point.
Instead of ‘being yourself’, instead be authentic. Seems like a small change, right? Wrong.
According to Stephen Joseph Ph.D. with Psychology Today, “…authentic people know themselves, own themselves, and be themselves.”
Authentic people not only know themselves, but they also take responsibility in their life. They have the balance between standing firm in who they are, but knowing that how they act might have consequences if they do so irrationally.
In an opinion piece from the New York Times by Adam Grant, he talks about author A. J. Jacobs, who tried ‘being yourself’ out for a few weeks. In summation, he ended up telling his editor that he would try to sleep with her if she wasn’t married, his nanny that he would take her out for a date if he could, and he told a little girl that she was holding a dead beetle, not a sleeping one.
“Deceit makes our world go round,”A. J. Jacobs concludes. “Without lies, marriages would crumble, workers would be fired, egos would be shattered, governments would collapse.”
In our generation, ‘be yourself’ is preached. But in reality, if you make one wrong turn, you’re canceled for that same thing that made you special.
“Nobody wants to see your true self,” Grant said. “We all have thoughts and feelings that we believe are fundamental to our lives, but that are better left unspoken.”
Instead of worrying about how others may react, focus on what you can control. Focus on authenticity, knowing yourself + owning yourself + being yourself. Then the next time someone tells you to ‘be yourself’, know that authenticity means so much more than that.