Thank you for loving me for who I am. I know how much you care about my identity, but please, stop telling me to be myself when I’m still my raw and unrefined self, for the best of me you see and celebrate today will be my worst tomorrow.
So, dear, stop telling me to be myself when I have not yet become the best of me, lest you stifle my passion for self-improvement. Instead, inspire and teach me to soar above myself without losing the human in me. I have heard this phrase, ‘be yourself’ most often from you, Counsellors, advisors, mentors, formators, motivators, animators, teachers, parents, guardians, well-wishers and friends as a way of encouraging me and others to maintain the authenticity and uniqueness of our identity.
Although few who listen to these profound words of warning (positively) have turned out to be successful people in the society today, a vast majority with a twisted and misconstrued interpretation of the phrase is profusely swimming in the sea of regret and frustration.
Many have lost their jobs; some demoted, lost their vocations and directions in life in an attempt ‘to be themselves’.
See, dearest one, what one is made of does not matter, but what matters is what we make of ourself. This is because what you make of yourself is your own token of appreciation to the Creative work of God since no man is born a finished Product.
We keep learning every day, we keep on improving every day, and we keep growing every day. Being yourself when you have not reached the finishing line in your grand voyage to self-discovery, only ends up making you a mediocre. Yes, because we have no limit by which we can improve and explore our potentials and harness our latent talents.
All men are born equal, but actions taken towards the exploration and utilization of his potentials makes him either inferior or superior to others. Allow me to explore the world of discovery; the answer might be a solution to the problems of the world; and that I may gallantly leave the world better than I met it.
Let me tell the story of a good friend of mine; as this will help drive home the message. This young man (name withheld) to my judgment happened to be endowed exceptionally with dexterity, wit, intelligence versatility, agility, and creativity—the best personification of grace, success, and achievement.
He was the best graduating student in his department and the youngest in the whole faculty. Shortly after his graduation, he landed a job in a reputable company. He displayed his sterling qualities in his place of work, and the boss was impressed.
He kept telling him, “I’m proud of you young man, just be yourself”. But the boss was oblivious of the fact that the other side of ‘this valuable asset’ to the company was that, he was a failure in record keeping, grossly irresponsible, dubious, and dishonest.
In line with the saying that pride goes before a fall, instead of him struggling to be better, he started deteriorating morally in a geometric retrogression because he thought he had reached the limit of human goodness.
When the young man started displaying his ‘real self’, the company crumbled and went bankrupt. The general manager discovered the brain behind the catalogue of disaster that had befallen them, and this young man was found guilty as charged. He was then outrightly dismissed from his position at the Office. That was when I met him, and he narrated all to me.
His response after a while to his sad but unremorseful story was this, “My dear, it wasn’t my fault. I was only following the instruction of my boss and the people around me. My boss kept reiterating, “Be yourself” as though if I revealed my real self to him, he was going to condone and accept me the way I was!
And you know me too well that though, I am intelligent and gifted in more ways than one, I am very dubious, dishonest, and crafty. I have not been able to overcome this questionable and kleptomaniac habit in me. Each time I struggled to bring out the best in me by trying so hard to overcome the evil urge to steal, my boss kept telling me, ‘just be yourself.”
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But I was too complacent in being my unrefined self that it resulted in making me worse off than I had ever been!” He stooped down, weeping inconsolably.
Then he continued. “What was wrong with him telling me to bring out the best in me when he knew he would not condone the worst of me? What was wrong with him telling me to be the best that I can be? Was there any wrong with him telling me to maximize my virtues and minimize my vices?
What is wrong to tell me, always to strive for the best? What is wrong with him telling me not to compromise with excellence? What is wrong?… What is wrong?…” endless Litanies of What was wrong?” He ended with many. ‘What’
As a follow up to the scenario painted above, to the one who cares so much about my happiness and unique identity, I will instead prefer you advise me to bring out the best than telling me to be myself. What if I’m a thief? What if I was dishonest? Disobedient? Unfaithful? Arrogant? Drunk? A drug addict? Then should I still be myself? Dear You, I know how my personality and integrity to you, but I will instead prefer you advise me to be open and docile to accept corrections than telling me to follow my heart.
What if emotions becloud my heart? What if my mind is corrupt? And my heart filled with evil desires? Then should I still be myself? Dear You, I know how much my happiness means to you and how you always want to see me happy, but I want you to advise me on how to make the best out of myself than telling me to keep being the best that I am now. What if my best is not good enough? What if my best is another person’s worst? What if my best today turns out to be my worst tomorrow? Should I still be myself?
Please, dearest counsellors, mentors, animators, motivators, parents, guardians, teachers, friends and You, who are so concerned about me and my personhood, please if you love me, egg me on to bring out the best in me and not to just be ‘myself.’ Because if you encourage me to bring out the best in me, I assure you that I will pierce the impenetrable cloud and reach the limitless sky of achievement ever recorded on this planet. After all, isn’t the best room in the world the place for self-improvement?
Tell me to believe in myself, and my capabilities for it is when I believe in myself and my potentials that I can be the best of me. See, the greatest weapon one can use to overcome the greatest enemy in him, which is fear; is by exhibiting a strong self-conviction that would defy fear, a factor inimical to one’s progress. Thus the day one stops believing in oneself, that is the day one ends living.
You are nothing but a living corpse if you are devoid of self-conviction. If you do not believe in yourself first, who do you expect to believe in you? If you do not look within yourself, who do you expect to look up to you? The best teacher is the self. This is because, in every stage of our life, we meet teachers who impact moral and intellectual values in us but often care little about our inner happiness.
That vacuum is left for the teacher in us to fill. The best gifts in the world are those you give yourself through personal effort and supplication.
Dear you, in a bid to secure your true identity, don’t make me lose my humanity so that I can win your approval. Don’t compare me with anyone, lest you make me lose myself in my quest to be someone else. If I succeed in being You or someone else, who will then be me? See, I am not in a competition with anyone other than myself.
The only person I’m free to compete with is myself. The urge to transcend my present state to the next level of unstoppable achievement is the biggest battle I keep fighting every day because the instinct of self-transcendence is the vital force that propels us to succeed. I am ‘me’, and I like the fact that I am ‘me’ because, in all of heaven and earth, there is no one exactly like me. So if you succeed in forcing me to be You or another person other than myself, who will then be me?
How can I be you and me at the same time? Why mount so much pressure on me by wanting me to be another person without urging me to be the best version of me? And If I succeed in losing my self-worth and identity to perform another person’s role, who then plays my role?
Dear, you, if you love me, inspire me to be the best of me, don’t make me too comfortable in just being myself like stagnant water that does nothing but stinks. But inspire me to think outside the box lest I sink in the sea of illusion and delusion. Don’t pressurize me to be someone else other than myself, for the best gift to humanity is the gift of the self.
Dear, you, I love you for who you are, and I want you to love me for who I am. Stay blessed and don’t forget to bring out the best in you for humanity will not be complete without You.
From a fellow human whose passion is to humanize and immortalize humanity with words