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The Dichotomy of Being Yourself
All of my life I have been sent this wonderful message of being yourself. I heard this message in TV shows, movies, cartoons from childhood, and from my teachers and my parents. They told me to shoot for the stars, to be true to myself, and all of those lovely sentiments.
Then as I grew up, I got these other messages of fitting in and finding something to do that is responsible and self-efficient. I got these messages that I have to work hard to please others and make sure others are happy. I got these messages that I need to live my life under certain perimeters, that I need to change myself to fit into a certain mold.
I get these messages in this society that you must be true to yourself but then you must do it in the way that others see fit. How do you do that? How do you be true to yourself and do what you need to do to be a part of this society?
I often am confronted with this. Sometimes conformity is inevitable; it is just part of life and a part of growing up. You have to conform to the rules and procedures of your job. You have to conform to meet all of your responsibilities like paying bills. There are lots of things you have to conform to. You have to conform to appease others and make sure the people you care about are being taken care of.
I continue to see this theme of being yourself of shooting for the stars and sing to the beat of your own Drummer today. The most current piece that brings this theme back is the song "This is Me," from The Greatest Showman. It talks about not listening to naysayers who ridicule you for being different and just embrace who you are.
So can we do this? Is it possible to play to the beat of your own drummer? Can we really be the best versions of the self we want to be? I would like to think we can even though there are times when we have to conform to some things. There are times, though, when I must stand up and speak up and say this is who I am and embrace who I am. Is it good to positively change for the better and improve yourself? Yes. I also think there are times when you need to figure out who you are and what it is you stand for and stay true to yourself like one of the Disney songs I grew up with suggested ("True to Your Heart" in Mulan by 98 Degrees).
There were times when I was working at a job that I did not enjoy and I felt in order to do a good job and really fit with this company I had to change who I was. I felt like I was a square trying to fit in into a triangle. It stressed me out because it was not natural for me to act a certain way and I was being advised to basically have a different outlook on life and to act in a way that was the opposite from my personality. That didn't do me any favors. It made me question what type of person I was and what type of person I wanted to be. I was not being true to myself. I did not have those instincts or that warm feeling that felt that this was me. I didn't feel like myself because I wasn't being myself. I learned from that, that perhaps all of those dreams and those messages I was sent when I was younger weren't so wrong. Yes, at some point a person has to grow up and take on responsibilities but taking on responsibilities isn't the same as forgetting about who you are at your core.