"To be yourself in a world that is constantly trying to make you something else is the greatest accomplishment."―Ralph Waldo Emerson
I want you to prepare for some straight talk. No Fluff in this piece.
I'm not going to sugarcoat any of this.
The world wants you to become a replication of what it deems normal. Normal is what the governments want, what schools want, what the public sentient wants.
The problem is, you will suffer in each attempt you make to be normal. Normal stifles your unique gifts. Normal breeds shame and guilt of who you are. Normal ruins lives.
So what I want for you is for you to be yourself completely. Fundamentally, this is who you are, and trying to change who you are to fit someone else's definition is always going to fail and cause you massive suffering along the way.
So instead, let's get you being who you are with every ounce of your being. Then if you want to engage in anything "normal," it will be on your won terms, and you, the unique person, will still be who you are rather than some robot.
That all said, I must repeat this, so you are prepared for the fright: the world wants you to become what it wants, so you must FIGHT the constant barrage of pressure that is trying to confirm you and turn you into a replica.
You are here now, reading this because you want a life for yourself. You want to accept who you are and be happy with yourself.
And I applaud you for even looking for help on how to do that. Most won't. Most struggle their entire life, trying to live up to standards set by other people. That's quite sad when you think about it.
To what extent you build a unique and original life for yourself is entrails up to you. Don't mistake what I'm saying for the idea that you have to become a rebel and opt-out of anything commercial or modern or "normal."
What I'm suggesting is you pick and choose your normalness. When you decide to act normal, it's on your own terms. And it's not because you've been conditioned but because you've weighed the pros and cons and formulated your own opinion.
So the first principle of being happy with yourself and truly living for yourself is this: the world will forever try to conform you to what it wants, and thus, you will forever have to fight for yourself, to remain yourself.
Now that we got that out of the way let's get to some strategies for building a mindset around who you are and how to become truly accepting, to even love, the person you are.
The foundation of accomplishing anything is desire.
You shouldn't worry about tricks, tips or hacks until you have internalized a true to be who you are fully and completely.
You have to accept that's what you want then work on becoming ok with that identity.
This won't happen overnight, so keep in mind this is going to be a process, and it may not be a linear process. You will wax and wane and sometimes make big strides, but no matter what you do, keep going, and be patient.
Now that you have the desire to be your own person in a world that is constantly trying to make you something else, we can get to a practical strategy to use to
The hardest part of living for yourself and truly respecting your own unique originality is developing confidence around your identity.
The best way to do this is to self educate. If you are going to have ideas that are counter to what's "normal" than you're going to need to do your homework, so you feel comfortable talking about them or defending our decisions when others put pressure on you. And they will.
The more time you spend formulating your beliefs, the easier it will be to share those ideas with others while justifying your perspective.
Of course, you don't have to share your beliefs with others.
It's a common misconception that you have to continually defend yourself from the omnipresent social pressure all around you. But that's an illusion. Generally, most people will respect what you tell them to respect. Some will push a little, and a trivial few will try to blatantly manipulate and control you.
There are strategies you can use to avoid having to explain yourself to others.
Sometimes you may want to have a nuanced conversation with the aim of helping inspire and educate others, but those situations are less frequent than you might admit as they require a receptive audience, and most people are not a receptive audience to anything that they don't understand.
So more often than not, you might change the subject or not going into explaining yourself at all. You'll get better at identifying the different situations through experience.
Here are a few strategies to use to sidestep social pressure:
- Shrug your shoulders.... and utter "Hmm" or "Umf." That's it. No further explanation is necessary.
- If you feel the need to say something, try this, "I haven't thought about that." Then stop. Don't try to explain. Don't let people bait you into formulating an opinion on the spot... that's why people get sucked into dumb arguments: because they respond to the pokers.
- Ignore the pokers. Ignore the instigators. Most of the time, these people want to manipulate you so they can feel good about themselves. So don't waste your time on them.
- Say "I don't agree" or "I don't believe that" - then move on. Don't debate or argue; just leave it at that. You can state your peace then stop talking. Some will try to make you defend your position or explain yourself, but you don't have to do anything. And usually, this is actually the more powerful play: leave it up to their imagination. It will make them think, maybe even open up their ideas. Don't be drawn into pointless conversations.
These are just a few of the many strategies you can use to prevent getting into tough situations. Then, as time goes on and you get better at testing the waters with your beliefs, you'll become more confident and find more opportunities to talk with like minds about ideas that smaller minds might not be open to.
For example, in certain settings, when I'm around certain people, I may not talk about business, or I might not talk about my thoughts on the 2020 pandemic, for example.
With some of my close friends, I'll talk about anything.
So there is a scale, and part of becoming confident in who you are is figuring out how to slide that scale up or down based on the social situation.
When you truly accept who you are, you'll start to show others who you are; it will come naturally. And over enough time, you really will be who you are, and you'll be happy with who you are. That is the ultimate goal. So be patient and try some of the strategies below.
Mindfulness, nature, health
This is a blanket category for mental and physical health.
The healthier you are in body and mind, the easier it is to focus on yourself and be ok with that. After all, most people are sick one way or another, so by merit of being mentally and physically fit, you'll immediately separate yourself in your own mind, which will give you confidence in your identity.
This makes it much easier to be happy with yourself.
Here is a free resource for health: The 7 Principles of Living Wild
Always be yourself
You should always aim to always be yourself. In every situation you encounter, you will be given a choice: be yourself or be someone else.
The more you recognize this about yourself, the more likely you will be who you are. The more you are who you are, the easier it is to be who you are.
This sounds so simplistic, but life is often simple. WE just complicate it with the limitless data and distraction at our fingertips.
In every instance, regardless of how you feel or who you're around, remind yourself to be you.
The world needs unique, original thinkers. Here are some quotes from some other independent thinkers that were willing to challenge the status quo and thus changed the world in their own small way.
You can change the world if you change yourself. Changing yourself is changing the world, so never discount how important that really is. Always be yourself, and the more you are the easier it will be to be happy with who you are.
"Books serve to show a man that those original thoughts of his aren't very new after all."
- Abraham Lincoln
"Immature poets imitate; mature poets steal."
― T.S. Eliot, The Sacred Wood
"All my best thoughts were stolen by the ancients."
― Ralph Waldo Emerson
"Only those with no memory insist on their originality."
- Coco Chanel
“Here's to the crazy ones. The misfits. The rebels. The troublemakers. The round pegs in the square holes. The ones who see things differently.”
- Walter Isaacson
Read history, especially biographies
If you start reading biographies of some of the most famous people in history, you will find people that stood out and embraced their uniqueness.
No one that falls in line is remembered.
No one that creates anything or does anything worthwhile falls in line.
Because our society has become so conformed, just becoming a unique person with a unique perspective will make you stick out and give you a better chance of living a great life.
So really, if you don't embrace who you are and become ok with who you are, then you're going to suffer and hold yourself back. You might end up miserable, and with a life you never imagined.
On the flip side, let go of the ideas in your mind that were put there by others. Yes, that includes your parents, grandparents, siblings, aunts, uncles, childhood friends, classmates, etc.
More often than not, the people around us think they know what's best for us, better than we do. And they are always wrong. By merit of the equation, they are wrong. Only what you have decided is best for you is good for you. You must come to that conclusion on your own. If you don't, anything you do will be built on top of a shaky foundation.
“The number one reason people fail in life is because they listen to their friends, family, and neighbours.”-Napoleon Hill