Wednesday, April 21, 2010

"Be yourself"?

People are always saying, “Be yourself.” Especially in the context of dating, right before a date- “Just be yourself.” I never fully understood what that means. You are yourself, how can you be anything besides yourself? I understand that often people put on facades and act a certain way just for show, but their choice of how to act reflects who they are.

Human beings are complex and are not one certain way. A person can act one way in one situation and a different way in a different situation and there is no problem with that. It doesn’t mean that they aren’t being themselves. They are just choosing to express or emphasize a certain aspect of themselves.

Perhaps people mean don’t pretend to be a certain way just to please people. For example, don’t say you’re interesting in something that you have no interest in, simply to get a person’s attention. But to me that is not a matter of “being yourself” but rather a matter of honestly. In which case people should say, “Don’t lie.”

Maybe what “Be yourself” means is be active in expressing all aspects of yourself. Don’t hide a part of yourself because you’re afraid that people won’t like it or approve of it. Don’t over-emphasize or build up a part of yourself that isn’t so important to you. There are many facets to each individual, and we each choose which parts we like and which parts we don’t.

This can be hard to do on dates if you’re too focused on what the person thinks about you and if they like you or not. I think instead of “Be yourself” we should say “Express all aspects of youself,” or “don’t hide certain parts of yourself.” You are who you are, all the many components combined together. If you only show the world one slice of yourself, then they are missing out on seeing the real you.


  1. I think when people say "be yourself" they mean, don't put on a facade to make other people like you and don't act inhibited. I think it is possible to act differently than you are, especially in dating if you try dating based on rules people give you.

    Good luck with the blog!

  2. BJG- First of all, thanks for commenting!

    Also, I agree that it's possible to act differently than you are, but in that case the fact that you feel the need to act that way says something about you. If you put on the act long enough, at some point it stops being an act. It's not so clear where the line is.

  3. I think most people have some times in their life where they're instincts are to act differently than they are, dating is one of those times for most frum people, especially those with limited knowledge of the opposite sex. I've often wondered about becoming the person you act like, if you do it too long. I don't know, it can get confusing, how are you supposed to know what the real you is, if you act differently some times?

  4. I think "the real you" is a flexible thing that doesn't always stay the same. People change. That's why I'm not sure what people mean when they say "be yourself." Let's say you act in a way that isn't consistent with how you usually act. Is that not being you or is it you changing? It could be either one depending on why you're doing it. If someone who is usually stingy decides to give charity, is that not being true to himself or is it the person changing?

  5. To make it even more confusing, how many yous can there be? Let's say (hypothetically of course) that I act one way at work, another way with my close friends, another way with people I don't know well and yet another way when I'm blogging. Does that mean that sometimes I'm not acting like myself? I don't think so, I think like you said, it's flexible, as long as you're acting a way b/c you want to, not b/c someone is telling you that you have to. So "be yourself" should be something like "act how you want to".

    Coincidentally, I just happened on this post by SIS, she kind of said what I'm thinking, without sounding so crazy.

  6. You didn't sound crazy- it made perfect sense to me.

    Thanks for posting the link! I enjoyed reading her post which expressed similar ideas even though she wrote it a while ago.

  7. I agree that the general consensus means that you shouldn't try to be something you're not or try to portray a specific image because you think that's attractive or that's what you heard the person is looking for.

    In another fashion, it also means that you need to achieve a level of comfort and be at ease akin to how you are around your friends. That doesn't mean you should crack innappropriate jokes as you might amongst friends, or whatever other activity that is more just amongst friends than in public social situations. Rather you need to feel unhindered in being able to expose your personality for what it is, talk normally, react normally - quite unlike the proper formality which often restricts one's expression while on a date.

    A date shouldn't be a formal interview for a job, even if there is some element of that there. The person should be your friend, and you should act in that more friendly, less restrained fashion. True, this is difficult to achieve on a first date, but certainly as things progress, you need to "let your hair down" as that level of comfort with the other person increases - so that each of you can get a full impression of the "real" you instead of the "date" you.

  8. SoG- interesting definition of "be yourself" when it comes to dating- be informal and relaxed.

  9. or by doing so - you will convey the "real" you, because it strips away all the awkwardness of being uptight and therefore acting in a manner that is different from your typical behavior.


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