Home > Filosofía > Being You

Being You

For weeks I have been trying to write about “being yourself.”  It’s a slippery topic.

I once wrote the following: “To write truly, just make sure you are yourself when you sit down to write.”  (And I should have added, “Keep on checking as you go.”)  The trouble is, I have a big struggle with being myself, myself.

The most helpful things are so simple that it’s no fun writing about them: pay attention to the air in your nostrils; tell the truth, or at least, don’t lie; focus your eyes; keep your own counsel; do what’s right so you can sleep; be poised for action; don’t refuse to be “here,” use your imagination to lighten-up parts of your body.

After a while the whole thing sounds crazy, and the truest things sound craziest.  Well, that’s a beginning.

I picture myself at nineteen.  I am the passenger in a shiny Chevrolet driven by the young man I am dating.  We are driving across the industrial belly of Seattle, on our way to a nightclub.

I am tensely pretending to be what I already am– a nice, attractive nineteen-year-old girl– and desperately trying to think of something that a nice, attractive nineteen-year-old girl might say.

My date turns to me with a disconcerted look and says, “Don’t strain, for God’s sake.  Just be yourself.”

I don’t remember what I thought next, but it must have been something like this:

“Oops! Oh no!  What have I done?  He sees though me!  What if he never calls me again?  How can I fix this?”

And, not knowing what else to do, I would have intensified my pretense of being who I already was.

Because I had no idea what it meant to be yourself, not then and not for a long time afterwards.

The feeling of being not-yourself is a smarmy feeling.  You feel ashamed all the time.  The moral judgments are unrelenting.  If you’re kind and nice, you’re on your case immediately: “I’m so insincere, so sugary, so slimy, and so awful– I bet people see right through me.  Why can’t I be spontaneous and sincere like everybody else?”  If you’re bad, as we all are sometimes, then you’re bad, of course:  “The real me has put in an appearance, and  I’m bad to the core,” you think.  There’s no way out between being slimy and inauthentic or rotten through and through.

Categories: Filosofía Tags:
  1. No comments yet.
You must be logged in to post a comment.