To be yourself in a world that is constantly trying to make you something else is the greatest accomplishment. – Ralph Waldo Emerson
Being your true authentic self takes a lot of courage but it is totally worth it. Working on feeling comfortable in your own skin can be hard sometimes because our inner critic undermines us, but once you learn to express yourself in a more authentic way, you will earn the respect of others and will be able to develop honest relationships.
Our daily lives consist of absorbing unrealistic expectations from media for what we should look like, how our romantic relationships should be, and even what we should be doing between the sheets with our sexual partners. It’s no wonder that our social media profiles are merely presentations of who we think we should be and not reflections of who we really are.
We’re just trying to fit in, be liked, and be accepted by other human beings — no one would possibly like us for who we really are, we might think.
So how do we get past all this and learn how to just be ourselves?
In my new book, Outsmart Your Smartphone: Conscious Tech Habits for Finding Happiness, Balance, and Connection IRL, I talk a lot about how to be ourselves now that we live in a hyper-digital world. These days, our personal relationships are so important to us that doing anything which could threaten those relationships can feel extra scary. We might already feel lonely and disconnected — why on earth would we want to be ourselves if that might chase people away?
Revealing our true selves can feel like a huge risk now that we live in a world where everyone is presenting themselves as perfect, attractive, and happy online.
What if we don’t feel like we are any of these things? Will being who we really are scare people away? Will everyone just suddenly abandon us?
Being yourself can feel risky, and it is. There may be people in your life who have fully bought into the idea that being a certain way and presenting a certain image is all that matters. If you start showing your true self, these people may indeed treat you differently, and that’s a risk.
But if you have to hide who you really are to be around these people, you can end up feeling lost, lonely, or even worthless, because you are basically telling yourself that who you really are isn’t OK. And other people don’t ever get to know who you really are, so you don’t feel as strongly connected to them either.
So rather than letting fear drive our self-expression, we need to learn how to accept ourselves, so we can truly be who we are.
Here are the 5 things to do, to be yourself:
1. Accept yourself.
Media (and social media) can make us feel unattractive. Models and actors are attractive, of course, but now even our friends on social media have photoshopped their pictures to perfection, often making us feel unattractive in comparison.
Lots of evidence shows that the more media we consume with attractive people in it, the worse we feel about ourselves. But because we don’t want to give up our addiction to media — an addiction that provides us with companionship, entertainment, and so many good memories — we don’t quit. It subtly tells us we’re not good enough so many times that we start to believe it’s true. Media wouldn’t lie to us, right?
Wrong! Media sets the bar impossibly high, so no matter how hard we try to improve ourselves, we always feel like we’re falling short. We don’t know our worth.