A Detailed Guide to “Being Yourself.”

I’ve found a really good article on “Being yourself”. And I wanted to share it with you. Hope you find it useful.

Please check out the original poster of this article. You may also want to take a look at other selfreflection posts.

Those who pretend to be smart, impress only the fools.

Hello everyone,

I’ve been going through a bunch of posts here and I’ve noticed a bit of a trend coming round. It seems that a lot of people here seem to have the same problem. As you can tell by the title, I’ve dubbed it “Being Yourself,” but it has a few other names. Has someone ever said to you:

  • Be More Confident.

  • Be Authentic.

  • Real Recognize Real.

  • Stop Playing.

  • You Don’t Gotta Lie to Kick It.

  • Quit Bullshitting.

  • Just Act Natural.

  • Who Cares What They Think?

  • Just Relax Dude.

  • Just Be Yourself!

All of these comments come from the same place. It’s a feeling of discomfort observed by one or more people over a certain amount of time. It generally emanates from someone’s ‘attempt to be something they are not’. I’ll start with a quote. 

“Those who pretend to be smart, impress only the fools.”

Attempting to be something you are not might trick someone who doesn’t know what they are talking about; but, when you’re trying to pretend to be interested in something, or to be good at something to impress someone, they likely know the subject matter. Here are some examples.

  • You want to impress a girl who really likes art, so you say how interested you are in it. She asks who your favorite artists are and gets excited. You say a well known painter like Picasso, and she asks you what period of his work you like the most. You say, “His early period”, like a good hipster, and she says she loved the blue period. What painting did you like the most? You of course say the Mona Lisa, which has nothing to do with his blue period. She asks if you like any other cubists? You clearly have no idea what she’s talking about. She asks if you like the persistence of memory, and her excitement dwindles as she realizes you’re just full of it.

  • You want to make friends with a talented musician so you say you play guitar, which you do; but, you leave out that you can play only a few songs, and only through tabs. The musician gets excited and asks if you want to Jam. You want to spend more time with them, so you say sure. When you arrive, your guitar is out of tune, you ear tune it without finding low E, and you have no idea what a Bm7 chord is, and when they ask you to play rhythm you don’t understand what they mean. The musician was hoping for a jam session and now they think you’re just an idiot.

  • A girl you really like is having a conversation with you and a bunch of your friends. She says she’s going to a Machine Gun Kelly concert this weekend and you say you’re going too and tell her you should go together. She says she’s going with a group of friends; and, you should come with them! Score! You go home, buy a ticket late for way more than its worth, and meet her at the concert. You hate the music, hate the scene, and are uncomfortable all night. You don’t smile, dance, or enjoy yourself at all. In fact, you make the entire group uncomfortable and partially ruin their night with your negativity.

In addition to the obvious problems created above, you’re not setting yourself up for success at all.

Why try to be something you’re not? If you hate modern hip hop, do you really want to hang out at those concerts? If Art is boring, do you really want to pretend to like it?

In some situations, a simple twist of your attitude can make all of the difference.

  • Instead of pretending to like art, you tell the girl the truth — “I don’t really know anything about art, but I’m always interested in learning new things. Who are your three favorite artists?” She says, “I love the Cubism and the dutch golden age. I really like Pablo Picasso, Salvador Dali, and Rembrandt. Have you ever seen …” and begins to go on a long rant about their work, suggesting piece after piece. She pulls out her phone and starts showing you paintings she likes, and you get to just speak to her honestly regarding how you feel about them.

  • Instead of acting like you’re a good musician, you tell the musician you play guitar, but you’re not very good. “I really just know a few songs; but I’m hoping to get better.” The musician asks you what kind of theory you know, and you say that you have almost no training. “Can you suggest a good place to start?” They suggest looking into the Berklee School of Music theory lesson books, and says they could lend you lesson one. You say that would be amazing, and ask for their number.

  • Instead of pretending to like Machine Gun Kelly, you decide to keep your self-respect and find new friends. Huge win for everyone involved.

It may not seem like it, but the difference in these situations is confidence. Confidence is not to be confused with capability. 

What is confidence in yourself? Confidence is:

  • Understanding that it’s ok to admit you don’t know something.

  • Being willing to admit that you aren’t good at something.

  • Knowing that when you’re actually really good at something, you don’t need to brag. Talent speaks for itself.

  • Knowing that not everyone gets along, that not everyone is going to like you for you, and that’s ok.

  • Being loyal to your friends, your interests, and yourself.

Confidence is not:

  • Bragging about how good you are at something.

  • Pretending to know something you don’t.

  • Acting like you’re better than someone else for ANY reason.

  • Creating a false persona (armor/ego) to protect your sense of self.

  • Being an asshole.

What does Confidence look like? Confidence appears:

  • Comfortable in your own skin.

  • Secure in likes, opinions, and interests.

  • Cool, Inclusive, and Friendly.

Self-confidence is naturally developed by being OK with who you are; but, it does not somehow absolve an individual of personal responsibility. Here’s possibly the dumbest statement in the english language. “Well, who I am is an asshole. So if people want to be ok with me, they need to understand that ‘myself’ is an ‘asshole.'” Uh, Wrong. You are not your attitude towards others.

“You” are an amalgamation of genetics and experiences that create a unique persona with unique interests.

Being ok with “yourself” naturally implies that you are ok with others being themselves. So..

  • If someone likes something different that you? That’s ok.

  • If someone doesn’t like what you like? That’s ok.

Being yourself is about being comfortable with the things that make you “you” in the present moment. It’s not about preventing yourself from becoming a better person in the future. It’s not about preventing yourself from liking new things, or disliking new things. We grow up! I used to love the power rangers… Not so much anymore. I used to think books were boring and now I think I used to be an idiot! I used to be negative, to control conversations, to point out peoples flaws… Now I see that those behaviors weren’t useful to me or those I communicated with.

So how do I be myself, and improve myself at the same time?

Growth comes from a combination of comfort and discomfort. When we are truly comfortable with who we are, it’s because we Know who we are. “Know Thyself.” When we know who we are, we know what we like about ourselves and what we don’t like about ourselves. Now that we know what we don’t like about ourselves… We can change. Have you ever said to yourself:

  • I wish I was better at …

  • I wish I was in better shape.

  • I wish I spent less (or more) time …

  • I wish I didn’t get so upset all the time.

Once you know who you are, and what you like and don’t like about yourself, you can commit effort to do something about it.

To “Be Yourself” means to be true to yourself. It means to always strive to be your best self… to live your best life. To keep the things that serve you, and to replace the things that don’t. To play to your strengths, and to work on your weaknesses. To accept responsibility for your mistakes and constructive critique from others. To be a good friend to those who like you for who you are, and to not force friendship upon those who don’t.

It took me years of study, of banging my head against walls, of trying so desperately to make people like me… Finally, I got tired of the effort. I decided “Fuck it. If they don’t like me, I’ll just make sure I like myself.” I started dedicating my time to doing things I liked. I started having more fun. I stopped hanging out with people who didn’t really seem to care about me, and I started spending more time with the people who were interested in getting in shape, in playing video games, and the performing arts. All of a sudden, I became popular. Once I stopped trying, and started living, it all came together. It will all come together for you too. All you have to do is stop resisting and be yourself.

Cheers everyone.

RWTH Aachen Mechanical Engineering Student

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