“Stay true to who you are.”
This line operates under the crucial and foundational assumption that you have a healthy and accurate perception of yourself.
Up until I was 25, I don’t believe I had enough knowledge about myself to be able to know what it’s like to “stay true to myself.”
I had a good grasp of the kind of person others expected and wanted me to be, but the kind of person who I truly was, not so much.
To be so isn’t unheard of. We live in a world bombarded with infinite sets of should’s and oughts’s. We are constantly made to believe that the only way to be successful in life is to improve on our weaknesses, thereby causing us to be fully aware of everything we are not, and in the process, lose sight of who we are.
As a result, subconsciously, I subscribed to the mindset that I needed to be someone else other than just myself, because my self as is it is, is incapable, inadequate, and unsatisfactory – constantly and perpetually needs improvement.
While it is always a good habit to continually strive to be better versions of ourselves, at one point, we’ve taken it a little too far. We started setting unrealistic expectations for ourselves, envying others and pounding ourselves for being something we innately are not.
We’re all capable of change and growth. No one should ever be able to underestimate one’s ability to change for the better. I am a big believer of that. However, I’ve gotten to know that there are some aspects about ourselves that remain to be the core essence of who we are. We have certain tendencies and predispositions that pretty much turn up by default, regardless of the circumstance or our life’s state of affairs. And sometimes it’s these things that we need to build on. It’s when we turn our attention to such things – who we are rather than who we are not – that we are able to yield extraordinary results.
I’ve found that a good way to become familiar with one’s core essence, is to take psychology-based personality tests. I have personally found both the Enneagram and StrengthsFinder to be particularly comprehensive, useful, and accurate for me. I’ve diligently studied my results for both, and it has helped me tremendously in understanding the way I am wired.
Although these personality tests are unlikely to give you specific recommendations for career paths, they can provide you with valuable insight for realistic self-improvement. Knowing your personality type can also be a good way for you to understand how you interpret your experiences, how you think, and what conditions are best for you to learn and grow.
In a world of much pretense, distractions, and ostentatiousness, somehow we’ve become derailed from this core essence of ours, and to teach ourselves to be ourselves might just be the very thing that we need.
Of course to “stay true to one’s self” should never be meant to condone stubbornness and mediocrity. An unhealthy sense of self uses his or her dispositions and tendencies to resist change. To “be yourself” is meant to empower yourself to leverage on yours strengths, stick to your core essence, and live your life not the way others do or the way others expect, but exactly the way you are wired.
Dan Allender says this: We are written to be real, and there is something in every heart that knows when we are and when we are not.
So go on and invest in yourself – seek to understand who you truly are, and don’t be afraid to stick to that. To go on in this life with no sense of self will compel you to conform to other people’s yardstick, and be motivated by other people’s opinion of you, causing you to live every other life there is but your own.
And that is no way to live a life.