The obvious question when someone says, “Be yourself” is “Who else could I be?” … yet, we seldom ask that question. Why not?
“Be yourself” is usually the answer to a question like:
- How can I impress her/him?
- What can I do that will help me gain a job/promotion?
- How should I behave in this or that situation?
“Be yourself” doesn’t seem very helpful under these circumstances. For many (probably most) of us, “yourself” doesn’t seem very impressive or even likeable. We feel “not good enough”.
We didn’t start that way. We were born the center of our own universe. It took time to even perceive that there is a me and not me. Even then, we were fearless … for a while. We were adventurers, explorers, and scientists learning about a brave new world. Then, something happened. Maybe it was real. Maybe it was imagined. Maybe it was a slight or a reprimand. Maybe it was a failure. Whatever it was, we learned “I’m not good enough”. There’s only one problem with that lesson. It isn’t true. If there were any lesson to be learned from that long past experience, it’s “I’m not perfect” … or “I made a mistake” … or “That didn’t work”.
Why did most of us learn “I’m not good enough” rather than something more positive? Maybe the learning experience occurred too close to the time when we were our own personal “all that is”. Maybe we were unable to distinguish between our error and our being. Maybe it’s just part of being human.
Whatever it was, we learned the wrong lesson. It’s time to get over it. You’re good enough. I’m good enough. All of us, everywhere are good enough. As Oscar Wilde once said, “Be yourself; everybody else is taken.”