Sometimes I wish I were someone else.
Someone younger. More fashionable. Better at networking, or singing, or gardening. Someone without my imperfections, quirks, or weaknesses.
In other words, sometimes I’m not happy simply being myself.
It’s all too easy to compare myself to others and wish I had their finer qualities. To be frustrated because of who I am not instead of celebrating who I am.
Why is that?
Why am I ashamed to be myself?
Most people are other people. Their thoughts are someone else’s opinions, their lives a mimicry, their passions a quotation. Oscar Wilde
- Because we are bombarded with perfect images of perfect people: Models, fitness experts, entrepreneurs, the most successful celebrities in our chosen fields, visionaries who have raised millions for a worthy cause. When we compare our ordinary selves to such noteworthy individuals, we don’t measure up.
- Because we’re stuck in the past. Holding on to a mental image of our bodies or our achievements from a precious phase of life. A pause before age, an accident, a career move, or some other reality of life intervened.
- Because our authentic selves stick out like a sore thumb. (Or at least it feels that way to us.) We don’t fit the molds that our culture and society try to fit us into, because we hold values or priorities that do not fit with those molds. Unfortunately, when we don’t fit those molds, people notice. And some don’t approve.
Choosing to be myself takes intentionality
To be nobody but yourself in a world which is doing its best, night and day, to make you everybody else means to fight the hardest battle which any human being can fight; and never stop fighting. E. E. Cummings
It isn’t easy to go against the flow by choosing to be my authentic self, even when it makes me appear different. (Or un-hip, un-intellectual, old-fashioned, artsy, weird, eccentric…) As the quote above points out, the battle to stand firm and remain myself never stops.
And yet, the battle is worth fighting. Trying to be someone I’m not sets me up for failure—because I will never excel at being anyone but myself. Trying to be someone else makes for a miserable existence, because I am wasting my time and energy on the wrong things—things that won’t truly satisfy my soul.
But when I choose to embrace my authentic self (warts and all), and give up all the things I can’t be, and all the things I was never meant to do, I begin to find the freedom to become all that I can be. I begin to live a more satisfied life. I find it easier to make a difference to those around me.
That’s the kind of life I want. Don’t you?
And so I leave you with this challenge:
Always be a first rate version of yourself and not a second rate version of someone else. Judy Garland