The Universe has a funny way of putting you in repeated contact with new things you think about, the more often you start thinking about them. I’ve been thinking a lot lately about the concept of what it actually means to be yourself, and the implications and freedoms of what being yourself actually are. So naturally, by the laws of attraction, I’ve come across a few people lately whose apparent ability to be completely and unapologetically themselves, has absolutely stopped me in my tracks, and has left me baffled in awe and in admiration—and honestly, fascinated.
It’s tough to be yourself. It’s almost rare to find someone who is really doing it. It’s tough to get to the bottom and core of what it means, and to know what it feels like to know you’re being true to yourself in little everyday situations you’re faced with. Being yourself is something that changes all the time, every day, and also doesn’t change at all. It’s a constant, and also an ever changing impermanent state that evolves all the time the more you learn and the more you experience.
It’s tough to be yourself when you’ve got many competing factors at play that each seem to take up dominant and competing roles in your life. We’re constantly navigating our own limits, boundaries, values, likes and dislikes, tolerance, patience, and thresholds for things like pain, endurance, and happiness. These are all things that affect who we are, and affect what being yourself looks like to you, and to the outside world.
Like so many others, I’ve come to the conclusion that to exist peacefully in this world, today, and honestly in any time and world ever, it’s absolutely crucial to be yourself. It’s almost the only sane way to live. To keep fighting to find a way to unapologetically exist as exactly the being you feel you are inside, and aspire to be.
But—there’s a small catch.
As truly beautiful as it is, I don’t think that being yourself means that you have the right to do completely as you please, and to say what you think and feel in every situation all the time. I find that many people fall into the trap of giving a big middle finger to the world and to those that don’t agree with them, because they say that their beliefs and actions come from a place of personal truth and integrity, and that they don’t have time for people who can’t keep up with that.
Being yourself is critical—but it is absolutely nothing without Empathy.
Empathy is the overarching term that describes a person’s desire to genuinely try their very hardest to step into someone else’s shoes and understand something from their perspective. This isn’t the same as trying to understand or condone another person’s hate speech or negativity—that is something that will never have a genuine base in any discussion, as whether or not the person spewing it is aware of it themselves, blind hatred, negativity, and violence never come from a place of truth, justice, or integrity. Maliciousness and cruelty will never have a justified base or place in anything.
In a world where we are genuinely trying to slowly make baby steps towards a global shift in attitude regarding the importance of being yourself, I urge people to try and be 100% themselves, but with empathy. To be themselves, but to have patience towards others who haven’t quite figured out how they can be themselves quite yet. To be kind, to try and be good, and to make people feel accepted and included, even if they’re different from you and what your own personal makeup looks like and is comprised of.
The only way being yourself will work on a global scale, is if we all give each other the freedom and kindness to coexist in harmonious ways with people that might be very different from who we are and that make choices that maybe we would not.
For me, learning to be myself has hugely included stripping away everything I thought I knew and believed about everything. Because I think that at my core, personally, being myself will ultimately mean being able to allow other people’s energies and feelings to enter my life, but to observe them without judgement and without letting those things affect me and which path I feel most comfortable on. But also, without condemning others and whatever path they choose to pursue, regardless of how they feel about me and mine.
To practice Empathy within integrity just takes everything that extra step further. It makes just being yourself seem simple in comparison.
I think to be yourself, while not accidentally shutting others down in your journey to self discovery and self-actualization, is the most difficult and noble and selfless thing anyone could ever do.