A no brainer when we were kids, being ourselves. When we didn’t care about what others thought, when we had no one to impress, no social norms to fit into. When societal stigmas weren’t a thing we even knew about.
But as we start to grow older this begins to change. We start looking at the popular group at school. We start to become aware of bullying. We begin to wonder what girls might think of us (or guys, whatever your gender/sexual preference) and we start thinking about how our peers perceive us.
Some of us also begin to get pressure from our parents. We want to live up to their standards, be that academically, socially or on the sports field. They begin to get competitive for us. Most times this comes from a place of care, as parents naturally want us to live a good life so worrying is inevitable.
And so we start to form an internal ideology of how we externally want to be perceived.
Now I know this isn’t the case for everyone, some people go through life so true to themselves it’s admirable. But for me this was not the case and I can only speak from my own experience.
My life so far has been a series of extreme ups and extremes downs and filled with heaps of change. I have been faced with far more challenges than I ever anticipated, and because of that, “being myself” has proven harder than it sounds. I have been torn up, put back together, rattled and shoved out my comfort zone one too many times and along the way, I feel as though I have totally lost myself.
I know what I used to be like – care free, ambitious, and uncomplicated, but that guy is but a memory now. Moving overseas, moving back home, and then back overseas again, all whilst battling an eating disorder, losing my mother and being riddled with anxiety, away from my family and friends, I fell apart.
Its been interesting, trying to “find myself” again. I have found it hard making friends in my new home because of this. I have met a handful of true gems that have, in ways they don’t even know, helped put me back together. But that’s only half the battle and damn do I have a LONG way to go.
But my strategy for doing this, finding myself so I can be myself, is by dipping my feet into doing the things I used to love before shit hit the fan. Immersing myself in music, singing, reading, going to live events, theatre, gigs. As well as new things I have learnt to appreciate. Long walks, nature, yoga and meditation.
And saying yes more often. It may sound cheesy, but Jim Carrey was onto something with his film Yes Man. Overtime I have become used to saying no to things almost as a reflex. Because my anxiety got so bad and because my comfort zone was all the norm I had left. I am very aware that I won’t always get it right, but the intention is there.
For many people, something that sounds as easy as just being yourself is very difficult, and because of this it can leave one feeling defeated and useless. This is something that shouldn’t really be overlooked as being trivial, and I hope we can learn to grasp the complexity of it and approach it with a little more care.
Because when we don’t, we are putting someone’s feelings and battles down which ends up in loneliness and a hesitance to speak up and ask for help, and that’s where the real problems start.