“Embrace your complexity, stretch your creativity, and live up to your potential, you are what makes the world great.”
I thought about being yourself the other day when I saw a mockingbird chirping away loudly <as mockingbirds do> … proudly singing its song … and … well … every other bird’s song within ear reach.
Mockingbirds are the world’s best mimics.
They are also quite aggressively protective of their nests and feeding territories.
Their call is a loud, sharp ‘check’ and their song is a long, complex song consisting of a mixture of original and imitative phrases, each repeated several times.
So while ferociously independent … they are excellent mimickers of other birds.
In other words … they are strong defenders of self and self space … and yet more than willing to forfeit any sense of self in their vocalness … how they express themselves.
Being yourself is a topic that ever gets old … because it is so difficult to actually do <and advice spans from ‘don’t go changing to please anyone’ to ‘being different is good’ to … well … suffice it to say pretty much everyone spouts out ‘be yourself despite what anyone tells you’>.
I have tackled this topic twice before:
Simply suggesting ‘be yourself’ <with the unsaid ‘so damn the torpedoes and full speed ahead’>is a very poor attempt in simplifying something very complex.
You would think who you are, as in being yourself, would be simple … but it’s not.
And it’s not just that the world is constantly trying to change you <it is> … and that people around you are constantly trying to change you <they are> … but rather your inside <head & heart> are always changing.
And this whole ‘being yourself’ matters because it reverberates not only in your personal life & relationships but also in your business life.
And there is certainly a relationship between talent and personality.
Maybe not talent per se … but rather being as good as you can be at whatever you are actually naturally good at <and figuring out what you are actually good at is a test in itself>.
When misaligned ‘being yourself’ can hold you back or even be detrimental. It also certainly can lead to ‘being different for different sake.’
Here is the issue.
Much of being yourself is a moving target.
I imagine I am suggesting there is an inextricable link between being yourself & finding yourself.
“In the long run, we shape our lives, and we shape ourselves. The process never ends until we die. And the choices we make are ultimately our own responsibility.”
It is a Life truth that many things you felt strongly about with regard to ‘being yourself’ at 15 will look very very different <’awful’ different in fact> at 25 let alone 35.
In youth ‘being yourself’ may not exactly match up with ‘your best.’ You may want to be the best guitarist in the world … but you find you have no rhythm <or any knack at catching a rhythm>. Being yourself in youth is expansive mostly because you do not really own any particular talent so you own personality.
As life goes on you acquire more & more talent and therefore can afford to lose components of that ‘being yourself unequivocal stance’ you took in youth as you gain other more tangible reflections of ‘yourself.’
Just to be clear … even older people don’t get it right <in a different way … they tend to shrink>.
While in youth ‘yourself’ is forming itself in unimaginative ways <or maybe imagined ways> … unfortunately Life has a habit of squeezing ‘yourself’ as you age so that it becomes a smaller shrunken core <not suggesting that core isn’t really really important … just that it can get pretty frickin’ small if you let Life squeeze it too hard>.
Life is educational with regard to ‘being yourself.’
And as with any lessons in education … you listen … you learn … you make mistakes thru trial & error … and you move on to the ‘next level of yourself.’
But the uncomfortable Life truth is that yourself changes … and therefore being yourself changes.
It is uncomfortable because so many people spout the ‘don’t go changing’ tripe <and it is difficult to ignore>.
And that suggests you hold on to the initial ‘yourself’ for far too long.
It is an uncomfortable Life truth that letting go is difficult in and of itself … and even more so when discussing aspects of ‘yourself.’
You have to learn to adapt. To hold on to what is important and let go of what is less important <which sounds incredibly easy in those few words but incredibly difficult in reality>.
“The last couple years have been…full (kind of difficult to describe years in a single word). They have been wonderful, painful, long, incredibly brief, and more educational and rewarding than any I’ve ever lived before.
I finished touring on the previous record feeling very conflicted. The longer I’m given the wonderful opportunity to write and create things, and subsequently share them with others, the more seriously and preciously I take that endeavor and responsibility.
It is something I look upon with the utmost gratitude and respect.
And yet at the same time I find myself making art in a field that is itself quite the opposite of it. I am learning that one of the most difficult things about being human is not merely facing things that you don’t generally find comfortable or appropriate or even good, but actually learning how to live in the midst of it and not let it take over who you are.
When you feel you are on a wrong-headed path, the quickest way to get where you want to go is to turn around, head back, and start again from the point you went askew.
And so I did.
I returned simply to the things, which have always brought me some measure of understanding, peace, and movement.
Starting again with ‘yourself.’
Maybe that is the most uncomfortable truth about ‘yourself’ … sometimes you need to turn around … head back … and restart.
REstart as in … take a couple steps back … to take the steps forward you want.
“Very few people do this any more. It’s too risky. First of all, it’s a hell of a responsibility to be yourself. It’s much easier to be somebody else or nobody at all.”
Its risky … this ‘restarting’ thing.
Stepping back means … well … shit … that some people and some things may pass you by while you are focusing on where the heck is that one place I can finally get to in order to restart.
That is really really hard.
Mentally and practically.
But as with anything in life … its about choices. And what is most important to you.
The mockingbird has sacrificed a part of ‘self’ … and yet has maintained other aspects that make it thrive in almost any neighborhood you visit in its territorial world.
I used the mockingbird as an example … because I <personally> would never sacrifice my ‘song’ with regard to being myself.
That is the line I have drawn for myself.
And we all should, and need, to draw our own line.
I imagine my point is that we adapt ‘self’ as Life goes on.
We embrace some aspects and let go of others.
That’s what growing up is all about.
It’s a hell of a responsibility to being yourself … and even more so if you actually evolve.
Because many people – who typically like to slot you in some general category – will struggle with any changes you make and aspects you ‘let go of’ … almost always coming back to ‘but you used to …’ as an example of ‘you are compromising yourself.’
Being yourself is not stagnant.
Nor should it be.