We can be anything we want to be, but we can’t be anyone we want to be. You can be a scientist, a chef, a dancer, an entrepreneur, a writer, an artist, an astronaut, a president, but you have no choice but to be yourself.
Rather, you have no other wise choice than to be yourself. You can try to be someone you’re not – plenty of people try – but they all ultimately fail.
We all have a multitude of character and personality traits. Each trait we possess is possessed in a certain amount; the prominence of each trait varies from the next, just as the prominence of each trait varies from individual to individual.
The Big Five personality traits in psychology are openness, conscientiousness, extraversion, agreeableness and neuroticism. Of course, these are the most basic – each trait correlates to a cluster of related and more specific traits.
Every person possesses these traits to some degree and the traits fluctuate in intensity throughout our lifetimes. In other words, we do have some control over how intensely each trait manifests itself.
However, as just about everything in relation to psychology and consciousness, it’s much more complicated than that. To keep things simple, each trait has a natural or comfortable resting state.
The traits do have some elasticity, but as with all things, there are limits.
Pushing certain traits further than they are naturally inclined to be affects all the other traits – supplementing some and decreasing the prominence of others.
Pushing some traits too far, literally trying to be someone you’re not meant to be, is one of the worst things you could possibly do.
You will almost certainly fail.
Pushing yourself to be someone you’re not set up to be is not easy. Sometimes in life, we find ourselves in situations that require us to adapt, to be someone we aren’t.
At times of crises, we find sufficient reason and motivation to turn ourselves into the people necessary to get the job done. But this sort of transformation is usually unsustainable. Being someone you aren’t meant to be may be possible, but opportunities for failure are endless.
If you do succeed, you certainly won’t be happy.
Because we have somewhat natural levels of each individual personality trait, pushing any one trait outside of its limits is uncomfortable.
We are creating tension by pushing ourselves to think in ways we don’t usually think, to act in ways we don’t usually act, and to do things we don’t usually do.
This may all be fine, as long as you stay active and too busy to slow down… but as soon as you do, your world can come crashing down on top of you.
Continuing to pretend you are someone you’re really not will eventually make you crash and burn.
You may be able to push yourself to the limits and do so for years, decades even. Nevertheless, one day – even if it’s your last day – you will come to realize that you have wasted too much time being a person you simply aren’t.
Experiencing such a huge loss of time can push you over the edge.
To make things worse, before you crash and burn, you will likely push yourself further and further in the wrong direction – guaranteeing maximum misery before you fall apart.
It’s sort of like drinking or doing drugs – the more you consume, the worse you feel... the worse you feel, the more you consume. And then one day you take a look at yourself and feel sick to the stomach.
The longer and further you managed to push yourself, the more painful the fall back onto reality.
By the time you accept defeat, you would have caused immense damage – to your mind, your body, your relationships and your whole life.
Such immense changes in personality traits usually occur in a person’s 20s or 30s, when the mind is most prone to change. This means that the life we created before this changing point is one that we weren’t happy with, or couldn’t appreciate.
When we change our traits, we do so because we want to change our lives. Sometimes by wanting to create change so badly, we end up losing all the great things about the life we once had.
You are you and only you; you may wish you were someone else, but you aren’t and will never be.
The person you are at this very moment has been built over years and years of learning and interpretation. Your experiences have hardcoded you with certain behavioral traits as well as a particular line of thinking.
All of this is arguably mutable, but whether people alone are capable of entirely rewriting their personalities themselves is almost certainly impossible. You are you. Accept it.
Pretending to be someone you’re not for long enough will cause you to lose the person you really are, or that you once were.
You may have never been entirely certain of who that person was or is, but now you have pushed yourself so far in the wrong direction that the person may be lost forever.
Not everything is undoable. Not everything can be fixed or mended. Some things, once broken, will remain broken forever.
Photo Courtesy: We Heart It