One of the most ceaseless pieces of advice to exist is to “just be yourself.”
Your mother will tell this to you on your first day of school, your father on your first date, the sales assistant when purchasing a padded bra and finally, your current Insta fitness idol, when she puts her Monday motivation quote up with a mandatory #beyourself.
But there’s a small problem with that advice, isn’t there? How exactly do you do that? How do you simply “just be yourself,” particularly when you’ve been trying to be Cher from "Clueless" since 2002, sans plaid.
For those of us who never learned how to be ourselves in our younger years, being yourself actually means years of work undoing trying to be someone else.
This is probably why most of us either drop out of college or change majors three times in a semester.
Being yourself is f*cking hard. It’s the whole reason we have role models, so we don’t have to do all the leg work.
It’s like an Ikea set that’s already been put together, only just for your personality.
The only warning label reads: "Don’t choose Britney Spears or Lindsey Lohan."
I always thought the journey of life was about trying to figure yourself out, find out who you "really" are and other enlightening things probably said by the Dalai Lama or Ellen DeGeneres.
It was about making mistakes, doing dumb things, kissing the wrong boys. Then you’d come out the other end with this beautiful sense of self-awareness.
But, now we’re meant to start being ourselves from the get go? We’re expected to be this wonderful, original human like nobody else ever?
Considering we’re all a product of our environments, I don’t really understand what the whole "be yourself" thing means or how you get there.
I get the basics: be true to yourself, listen to your heart, be honest, don’t shoplift cigarettes, etc.
But, that’s not very applicable information, is it? Instead, it puts a rather large amount of pressure on us.
So, since this advice ceases to roll over and die, I think it’s time we take a look into what "being yourself" could potentially mean, for all of us:
Duh, stop being other people
Everyone wants to be someone special, beautiful or intelligent, but sometimes that can be confused with wanting to be someone else.
For instance, I once wanted to be Crysta the fairy from "Fern Gully," and my friend Elyse wanted to be former Playboy bunny, Kendra Wilkinson.
Today, I’m glad my aspirations were slightly more unachievable than hers.
But the thing is, it’s not so bad to aspire to be like someone if you admire the person for all his or her qualities and values.
These are the people who set the will to succeed in us.
"Being yourself" does not necessarily mean being 100 percent different to everyone else; it can mean taking little pieces from others that fit with the type of person you might one day want to be.
Don’t be an actor playing a role someone else created, write your own character and pull inspiration from others if you need to.
Stop caring what other people think and share that mentality
Most of us (girls) tone ourselves down a bit for public consumption. Tell us to be ourselves, and you’re more than likely going to get 60 percent crazy, 30 percent emotion and 10 percent "Girls" season four.
It’s incredibly difficult to stop caring about what people think of you, our day-to-days are plagued with constructing perfect stories of our lives streamed through social media.
But, while it’s hard to let go of the ego, I imagine this is one of the greatest steps in the direction toward "just being yourself."
It requires you to be honest and even speak up when you don’t want to, listen to your gut instincts, not be afraid of sometimes being an outcast and recognize when someone is also being authentic with you.
The more you liken yourself to people also trying to be "themselves," the more compelled you will be to pursue that same goal.
It doesn’t have to happen overnight
Lots of things can happen overnight, like baking a cake or making a baby, but becoming yourself is not one of them. As humans, we are constantly evolving.
Everything you experience continues to add to the person you are and will become, so the whole "being yourself" thing is a never ending project, and you should become accustomed to working on it frequently.
Just because you can do something doesn’t mean you should
Someone once told me, “Don’t choose opportunity, choose opportunity that faces in the direction of your dreams,” which reminded me that in order to have dreams, we must do things "ourselves" in order to achieve them, which requires us to not always do what others are doing.
It requires us to think and act outside of the box every so often.
Once again, this is part of growing up and being challenged by these types of situations highlights our independent strengths and weaknesses that will inevitably make us who we are.
While these tips build a relative foundation for "just being yourself," there’s still no distinct guide on exactly how to do it, there's no template you can buy.
Possibly the best advice is that no else in the world is you but you so take pride in that.
Perhaps we should stop confusing people, in particular, children, by saying, "be yourself" all the time and replace it with something a little more inspiring like, "be the self you've always dreamed of being."
Then we might just find ourselves.