Do you remember the middle school mantra? It was repeated to us relentlessly – from parents and teachers alike. As our squishy elementary school brains begin to transform into a more independent middle school minds, we are told over and over again: BE YOURSELF. Don’t let the haters in. Be true to yourself. You’re all you’ve got. And, in nearly every yearbook signature, “never change.”
If I had never changed since middle school, I would still have frosted tips and wet the bed (only very occasionally, when I had those dreams about going to the bathroom…you are so tricky, Brain!)
So what does it mean to be ourselves? Does it mean you hold true to your values regardless of what others say? Does it mean you continue to play Dungeons & Dragons even if that cute girl thinks it’s really dorky? Does it mean you should say how you feel and speak your mind because “you’re just being honest?”
When you are at school and you don’t like someone, isn’t it being yourself to treat them in that way? Why would you smile at someone you don’t like? Why would you thank a teacher who gave you a bad grade? Why would you go out of your way to try to get to know someone you think is annoying?
Because we have to stop being ourselves and start to become ourselves.
It’s easy to say you’re the kind of person that doesn’t get along with those people. It’s easy to say that you’re not the outgoing type who can just compliment someone randomly. It’s common for us to think that the person we are today is the person we will be tomorrow. It’s easy to be yourself and forget about what kind of person you want to be.
Scientists believe that the type of personality we have is more or less set by the time we are 6 years old. I believe the type of person we are is built on the choices we make everyday. Do not confuse character with personality.
Dr. Seuss (the wise poetician) wrote, “Today you are you, that is truer than true. There is no one alive who is youer than you.”
When you change who you are to impress others, you’re still being yourself – you are just being the you that is scared of what others think. When you sacrifice your values to fit in, it’s still you – it’s just the you you probably don’t want to be. But we all know what we want and what we do can sometimes be entirely different.
All of us want to be liked. All of us want to be kind, patient people. Not all of us are those things today, but we can certainly become those things tomorrow. You are who you continually choose to be. It doesn’t happen overnight, but neither does anything worthwhile.
There is no one alive who is youer than you. Who do YOU want to be? And more importantly, what choices are you making to become that person?