Be You.

Who are you?

As products of a man-made society, we are cultured to look outwards to understand who we are. Our family and friends are constantly slapping on labels, telling us what we are good at and what we are not good at, and generally paving the way for who they believe we are to them. Our educational credentials and professional work experience are also easily attributed to the type of person we “must be”. The lawyer must be a deceivingly convincing liar. The investment banker must be a money hungry workaholic. The doctor must be an emotionless surgical machine.

Society sketches the structure, draws in the hierarchy, and neatly slots us in where we belong. Our resume and social background determine are woven into our fabric and present to others what we have to offer. Have we really given our Facebook profile, and the number of likes and comments, so much power, to autonomously determine who we are?

I feel like we are all under a hypnotic spell to live up to society’s expectations of us, of somebody else’s impression of us, and of the other’s definition of who we apparently are. We condition ourselves this way – to not think for ourselves, and instead, to allow everybody else to do our thinking, our feeling, and our concluding. We put our brain on autopilot and our heart on hold as we desperately look around for others to decide what we are made of.

Somebody else gets to tell you who you are? And you have to tirelessly live up to the constantly changing expectations of others? For the rest of your fatigued life, you’ll be chasing an ever-changing description of yourself, in a mad rush to color in what others are sketching for you? It just doesn’t sound… right. (It doesn’t sound like a lot of fun either!)

So, what happens when we stop and take back the control? It’s as simple as just not allowing others to tell you who you are. Isn’t it?

Stop enabling others to control what you think of yourself and who you define yourself to be.

The very thought that another person believes they have the right to control your definition of yourself is just outright absurd. When you let somebody else define who you are, you will be continuously striving to live up to their expectations of what you’re made of. It’s like you’re in hot pursuit of something that keeps evading you. When you think you’ve got it in the bag, it will change shape, or size, or color, and then you’ll be running after it all over again. You’re chasing a mirage, an illusory destination. “It” will not stay and “it” will not remain, because “it” does not actually exist. Your GPS is searching for all the wrong locations, and that means you’ll forever be on a wild goose chase.

To truly be yourself, you must know yourself.

And to know yourself, you must be willing to look within, search through the depths of your inner self, and juggle the daunting pieces together so they make some sort of intuitive sense to you. Redirect your energies inwards. Tap into the wealth of your inner knowledge. You yourself hold the key to your secrets, so why not unlock the doors that will illuminate the essence of your being? You yourself know your innermost desires, treasured ideals, and intimate dreams. So, trust yourself to figure things out, for yourself. And then, define yourself.

Sure, you can rely on others to help you and guide you, but you control your thoughts, your actions, your words – they make you who you are.

Think of it as you being the director of your own movie. You have others to help you create and support your reality (the cameraman, the script writer, the cinematographer) but you are your own cast, you will star in your own movie, and most importantly, you will direct it.

When you know yourself, you will develop a strong sense of self. You will be anchored from within. You will not depend on anyone else or anything else to define who you are. Nothing can shake you, dismantle you, or turn your world upside down… because it all exists within yourself.

I have always taken responsibility for my behavior, holding myself accountable for my actions and words. I make my own choices, chart out my own path, and depend heavily on my sense of self to feel good (or bad) about the direction of my life. My family has lovingly nurtured me, my friends have ceaselessly supported me, and my environment has continuously protected me – they have all provided the sort of flexible guidance and easygoing love I’m eternally thankful for. I’m fortunate to have such good people in my life; they love me unconditionally and in totality, and yet have always encouraged me to foster a deep love of myself.

I was taught early on that there is absolutely nothing wrong in loving yourself, in listening to yourself, and basing your choices on what feels right rather than what looks right. I don’t live for somebody else’s affirmation of my worthiness – I know what I’m made of, independent of external evaluations. I learnt to trust myself at a young age, and I made my choices from what I felt in my heart. I have had my ups and downs, I have risen and I have fallen, but I have no regrets – because I called the shots. It makes it so much easier to stomach the nauseating failures and celebrate the sweet successes when I know that it is indeed what I wanted to do, what I chose to do. If I had made these choices because somebody else told me so, or because my situation pressured me into it, or because I did it to appease somebody or society, I know I wouldn’t feel this sort of unshakeable clarity in my actions.

I’m able to walk the steps in my life with a strong sense of purpose and direction only because I’m true to myself. I trust myself to know myself. And, therefore, I am myself.

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25 thoughts on “Be You.

Add yours

  1. Outstanding post! I especially like how you tackled the difficult distinction between allowing others to define us and seeking out trusted help in discovering who we are. A lot of times, we pretty much do things the other way around — we allow faceless others to define us, and ignore the insights and advice of the wisest people who know us. In the end, though, we must take responsibility for defining who we are — as you point out.

    One thing that has helped me to understand myself has been to study what my talents are. Talents, unlike so many things, pretty much stick with you for your entire life. They are also rich sources of self-fulfillment if and when you turn them into skills. They can even give you a purpose in life.

    An excellent and useful post.

    Liked by 4 people

    1. Thank you, Paul, for your comment! I like how you highlighted the distinction between taking help from others versus allowing others to define us. Guidance, insight, and perspectives are always welcome (after all, they enrich our own understanding of ourselves) but giving others the power to control how we see ourselves is a real pity – we start living by their rules rather than our own.

      I like your addition about talent and how that helps bring about self-fulfilment. I absolutely agree. We all have our unique niches where we excel, and giving ourselves permission to develop those innate talents and grow them into bigger skills and purposes gives us immense meaning to our lives. 🙂

      Liked by 2 people

      1. Almost nothing in this world irritates me more, Sindhuja than the heinous fact that so many people go about for one reason or another doing things that unnecessarily alienate people from themselves. I call that “abuse”.

        Liked by 2 people

  2. Such a good post. I especially love the part of taking responsibility of your own behavior and trusting yourself. Don’t let others’ actions dictate how you will react or how you will behave, stick to your path, the one that was meant for you. Great post.

    Liked by 2 people

  3. Nice post Sindhuja. I have stood by the choices I have made and have always considered those were the best for me. Have always trusted the intuitive voices that speak to me. Have not been able to explain the logic behind some of the decisions. But I knew that was the right thing to be done. Strange sometimes.

    Liked by 1 person

  4. Isn’t calling the shots of your life the most liberating thing on earth. Undoubtedly it’s scary and requires a mountain of bravery and courage but the fact that if there are any regrets they are your own, you are the queen of your kingdom, the captain of your boat makes those regrets lessons.

    And we must define ourselves rather let the world decide who we are, what we should be. 🙂

    This is a powerful post Sindhuja!

    Liked by 1 person

    1. Thank you for your comment! You said it beautifully – we are indeed the rulers of our kingdoms, the captains of our boats… that’s the only way to be anchored, not by others, but within ourselves. Like you said, if there are any regrets from the decisions I’ve made, I know it’s because of me (and not because of something or someone else) and therefore it’s easier to reconcile and come to an understanding of my mistake (or lesson), as it is all within my control.

      Liked by 2 people

  5. I agree that things are easier when we make the decisions in that we have to live with the outcomes of our choices. Even if we get a result we don’t want, I think it helps to free us from feeling that life and unpleasant things simply happen to us. We avoid feeling helpless that way.

    That being said, I feel that it’s a tricky thing to recognize and live out who we are. I think we’re hardwired as social beings to want to fit into a group and meet expectations. I think that can be helpful up to a point. But I also know that people can feel trapped in identities that don’t match who they are. I agree with you that we cannot let people control who we are.

    Liked by 1 person

    1. Life is indeed a tricky thing, as you said. It just helps to not lose our way due to blind conformity to societal expectations; being ourselves amongst a variety of other individuals and communities is the most liberating part of our own personal evolution, in my opinion. It’s truly a beautiful thing when you can be yourself and also find groups that you genuinely fit in within. 🙂

      Liked by 1 person

  6. Hello Sindhuja! In this part, you seem to be talking to me as if you know something in my life right now. Funny how when we write, we affect others in positive ways, in ways that really touch and help them be reminded of life’s important concepts. This is how this article has impacted me right now. Thank you for writing this.

    Liked by 1 person

  7. If I had made these choices because somebody else told me so, or because my situation pressured me into it, or because I did it to appease somebody or society, I know I wouldn’t feel this sort of unshakeable clarity in my actions.

    Like

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