What Does It Mean “To Be Yourself”?

Recently I’ve been thinking about the concept of being true to yourself and what it is actually means. Naturally there are many ways of approaching this question, and depending on how you look at it, the “answer” differs. Let’s say for instance that we are talking about a situation in which we believe someone to be “playing a role”; that is to say, to adapt to the circumstances and act in a way that is not adherent with the way this person is normally perceived. Some may say that this person is not being himself; that he is “acting up” or trying to be someone else. However, while this may seem quite reasonable at first glance, it is, as I see it, not the end of the story. As social creatures we are naturally prone to seek acceptance by others, and that which may be derived from this is that we are prone to act in a way which to us seem most likely to achieve this result. What this means is that it is only natural that we feel a certain pull towards following social conventions and towards caring what others think. Returning to our example, this person who we may accuse of not being himself, well, it is not as if he’s consciously trying to be someone else (usually), but rather that he is adapting to the circumstances. Another question that may arise as we follow this train of thought is; “Fine, we adapt, but surely there is a recognizable core persona to each and every person?”. Yes, I do believe that there is such a core; values and characteristics that are what in essence makes up a human being, and yet I’d say that beyond this scope we are fairly adaptable. Again with our example; it is not as if he actually completely changes as a person (that would be hella scary, and a very non-human, perhaps if he were an alien) but rather that the outwards expressions changes.

So to sum it all up. I do believe there is such a thing as being yourself, but I do not quite agree with the common way of looking at it.

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