Have you asked someone for dating advice and with almost a vindictive tone they told you “just be yourself”? Or perhaps you are nervous about an interview with someone important because of past failures and your best friend pats you on the back and says “relax, just be yourself, everything will be fine!”
But what if yourself is not fine? What if you could be better?
What if you could be someone else who truly seems happier, or more successful, is better with women, or more outgoing?
What if you have been doing the same GOOD deeds for quite some time now and receiving the same disappointing results?
Have you ever heard that the definition of insanity is trying the same thing over and over again and expecting different results?
Suppose you are an upper class suburban young man who grew up in Ivy League society. You were surrounded by the pompous and luxurious, the proper and learned. And yet one day you had the experience of going to a rather poor, unpolished part of the city where you happened upon a young man much different than yourself. Yet the two of you became close friends and you soon realized that he had more happiness and satisfaction in life than you did.
You fell deeply intrigued by his subculture and wanted to become a part of it. Yet most of his family and friends were wary of you. Your style of dress seemed to match that of one of their uncaring overbearing landlords. Your manner of speech seemed too lofty and arrogant. Your car stood out amount the poor neighborhood as someone who had what most did not.
No one can change their past or their heritage. That is part of what makes us who we are. But we can change the present. And should this young man come to so value the community of which his friend was a part, could we really justify telling him to “just be yourself” when that person is almost antithetical to the group with which he desires to identify?
Would he not be better of adapting their manner of speech, dressing less like a prep and more like a street kid, driving less extravagance, and learning to appreciate alternative cultural activities than his own? And would we really judge him for taking the positive from this close knit community and making it his own and perhaps even influencing his own kin to change in some respects as well?
Are we really encouraging people to just be themselves because we were all naturally born with the perfect set of personality traits and skills to be the most successful we can be? Or is this more of a cop out for real work and effort and become someone we are not, but who is much better?
Ultimately, my opinion is summed up with this statement:
Just be your best self. Be true to who you are at the core. But be true to the best in you. If just being yourself is a cop out not to fix your problems, learn to improve yourself.