Life Lessons: People who found the courage to be themselves

Life Lessons: People who found the courage to be themselves

I asked my readers a question: “How did you find the courage to be yourself?”. When you ask this type of question you are used to receiving a bunch of best tips on how people successfully managed to become a better version of themselves. It always sounds so easy, achievable and so far from the truth. People mention about some struggles they had on the way. Rarely, they talk about big failures which made them stuck for a long time.

I’m wondering then:

What’s wrong with me? Why can’t I move my ass and make a daily effort to get out of the stagnation I jumped in? Am I so weak? Do I still care? Did I become a better version of who people wanted me to be?

Being surrounded by millions of successful stories I start to doubt which ones are purely realistic. After all, it’s not like half of the global population has got perfect conditions to strive for their dreams. We all have bills to pay, so we search for a full-time job. Most of us have got family to take care of, so we dedicate our time to maintain healthy relationships. We don’t always have friends who understand and support the idea of who we want to be, so we put small steps on the ground instead of running to the stars.

All these thoughts were striking my mind until eventually, I’ve got a shiny, genuine and beautiful answer:

– I didn’t. I did not find the courage to be myself. But I was just too tired and sick of pretending to be someone else that I did not care anymore.

Wow, finally! Finally, someone who demonstrates the true face of how hard it is to be who we really are. A man who sincerely admits something we try to sweep under the rug: most of us pretend to be someone else. We put on smiling masks saying “All is well”. We hide our problems far from social media which becomes a principal space for expressing who we want to be. We’re scared of discovering that our life is quite average.

The man reached out to a point where he was sick and tired of pretending. How true it is! How many times I was sick and tired of adjusting to people’s expectations, doing everything to make them feel comfortable with my presence, being scared to disappoint. I felt in his shoes. I didn’t have the courage to be myself, but I didn’t care anymore about pretending to be someone else. So how could I become myself?

Before ‘becoming myself’, I just followed what others thought was cool or in trend. If someone or the media said that this product is the latest or that everyone should do this or that, I will definitely be one of the 1st few to do it. Even though, I did not like most of what I bought or did, I pretended that they were the best.

It made sense to me. I understood what were my motivations to buy some stuff or to do certain things. They were not born from a natural need. They were incited by a very specific boost: a comparison. Let’s see some examples:

  • a person I disliked was better dressed or succeded in the area of my interests
  • colleagues of mine posted pictures from magnificent trips while I was staying at home for a long time
  • a temporary crisis in my relationship prompting me to feel better about myself
  • a professional failure while my workmates were dealing well with daily challenges
  • a criticism of my values

What did the man say about his experience in his matter?

As for personality wise, I would say things which I think people liked to hear. Even though it is not true, I would still say to them so that I could get people to like me or think that I am nice.

He hit the jackpot. I realized I was doing the same. I wasn’t sharing my genuine opinions. Either because I didn’t want to hurt someone or because I didn’t want to be hurt. My opinions were well thought in order to bring the intended result. It doesn’t mean I meant to lie. I was just picking the right words to the right people. Saying things in a straight forward way wasn’t my strong side.

Over time, it wore me down. This constant faking and pretending took a lot of effort both mentally and physically. I just did not want to do it anymore. I then did whatever I wanted to and said whatever I wanted (I still consider other’s feelings when doing so). Most times, people need to hear the harsh truths.

That’s the most difficult, but at the same time the most relieving part of the game. The only thing I was hesitating about was saying the harsh truth. Maybe people need to hear it in order to wake up, but they definitely don’t want it. I’m thinking about people to whom I said the harsh truth. They never accepted it. They were defending themselves by:

  • attacking me
  • rejecting me
  • offending me
  • blaming me
  • criticizing me
  • leaving me

I’m not saying that people who are able to stand the harsh truth do not exist. They do and they are blessed for it. However, in most cases, they prefer to stay in their comfort zones and bite when you hold your hand to help them. As a matter of fact, I started to pay more attention to how I communicate the truth. I learned to wrap it up in a package of nice words. I’m careful with what I’m saying to avoid blessing someone’s feelings or discouraging them. It might not be the best method, but until now it brought me the best long term results.

So, I did not find the courage to follow my dreams or be myself. I am just tired of putting what others think of me in front of myself. Time to put yourself first and take care of the inner you before caring about others.

This part really struck me. We don’t always experience a happy end and we cannot always say: “Yes, I made it”. Sometimes, people don’t find the courage to be themselves, but they decide to put themselves first. To start living with respect to their inner voice. It’s not the perfect scenario, but it might be the best scenario they’re able to cope with for the moment. And that’s marvelous.

There was also a woman whose words also amazed me by their powerful simplicity.

It does not take courage to be ourselves.
It takes respect. Respect for Who We Are.

Do I respect myself enough to be myself? Or do I respect more other people to let them make me behave the way they want me to? One of the definitions I found in the Oxford dictionary says that respect means “have due regard for someone’s feelings, wishes or rights“. That’s a brilliant definition when it comes to understanding the role of respect in our life. I should have due regard to my feelings, to my wishes or to my rights before I have it for other people. That’s completely opposite to what I was taught at school or in my family circle. Nevertheless, it perfectly reflects what I was missing all my life. Acknowledging that I have the right to feel the way I feel. I have the right to wish what I wish. I have the right to have rights. Forgetting about these simple rules causes tremendous damage to our mind which is used to grant priority first to other people.

You don’t need courage to be yourself. You need humility. Once you are humble, you will not feel the desire to compare yourself to others. You will be your true self.

Regardless of the fact if you have the courage to be yourself or you don’t, what matters is to ask yourself a very important question: “Do I feel good in my skin? Do I like who I am today? Do I want to be the same in 5 years?”.

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5 thoughts on “Life Lessons: People who found the courage to be themselves”

  • <You’re right. The world is filled with too many perfect answers and stories. While they may be true for some, I am a bit skeptical about everyone having it so hard and then having it so easy.

    Interesting approach – being yourself because you’re tired of not being yourself. I never thought of it that way, but I guess it makes sense. I hear a lot of people say how they were pretending to be someone they were not for a while, but then they finally take the mask off.

    I started off without a mask, but society didn’t approve of it, so I put one on. They don’t like that, either. I’m tired of figuring out which mask is “the one”. I feel like I am going back to my no mask days.

    • Definitely, there’re some people for whom everything goes smoothly and it doesn’t require a great effort to be themselves. For instance, people whose body or external appearance isn’t perfect, but they made it their brand mark. I read recently about James Corden whose father was repeating him all his childhood how unique he was and it built a strong self-value in his mind.

      It’s hard to find a balance between being ourselves and being the one other people want us to be. At some point, we all put a mask. The question is how much it covers. Having a bipolar personality might be killing for our well-being.

      I’ve experienced it on my skin as well. And it sucks. I realized I will never satisfy people for a long time as their expectations change and I will never satisfy myself as it’s tiring to adjust all the time.

      I completely understand how you must have felt when no mask was appropriate enough. It’s not worth of trying.

      • Nurture IS important. It is up to you who you become, but if you feel encouraged and supported in your youth, you might have an easier time developing your sense of self.

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