By Tanya Tiger
Why do we feel compelled to spend so much time trying to emulate other people?
Why is it that we seem to have such a difficult time believing that we are enough just as we are? We were each created to be us—unique additions to this world. Yet, we spend an inordinate amount of time trying to figure out why we don’t fit in. We search out self-help books to discover what’s “wrong” with us and how we can be “fixed.” Why do we see different as something bad? Would it really be so terrible if we let ourselves simply be? We were born into this world to bring our own gifts, talents, personality, way of being and way of seeing things.
How often have you heard someone say, “Oh, I know you better than you know yourself?” Here’s an even bigger question: how many times did you believe them? No one can know you better than you know yourself. It’s your life after all. It’s your soul driving the bus that is your physical being, right? I believe that problems most often arise when people start giving their power away to others. You let other people change your mind, even when your gut is screaming that it’s not the right choice for you. You let them make choices for you. It starts off small with the way you wear your hair or the clothes you choose and then it starts sneaking into bigger decisions, like what to study in school (“oh, you’re so good with people, you should be a counselor” or “you were never good in math, I don’t think you should apply to engineering school”) or the person you should marry (“she/he is from ‘good stock,’ their family is well-off, you should totally marry her/him” or “I can’t believe you’re into him/her! They’re so
Before you know it, your life isn’t your own and you’re left feeling completely powerless to change it.
The good news is that you can reclaim your own identity and it’s never too late—really. The bad news is that it takes work and it is rare that you come away unscathed. See, taking back control also means accepting full responsibility for your life (even the parts you’d rather forget ever happened), accepting the consequences of making new choices (leaving a spouse, changing majors in your final semester of college), and being willing to watch people walk away from you when you finally stand in your own power (family, friends, the dog…ok, maybe not the dog, but you see my point). This decision gets real and it can be scary.
When you’ve spent most of your life trying to be like someone else, trying to meet with someone else’s approval, and/or allowing other people to dictate what your life is going to look like, it’s usually because you didn’t trust yourself enough to begin with. Somewhere along the line you learned a lie and made it your truth: You’re not good enough the way you are.
That’s a lie that, unfortunately, many of us buy into and our culture is more than happy to feed into it.
Deciding to put your faith in you and to reclaim your “authentic” self…well, that takes some major chutzpa! This desire—this longing for change—often arrives when your life becomes unbearably uncomfortable. It no longer fits. In fact, it never really fit to begin with and you cannot ignore that fact any more. When you finally wake up to this realization and recognize that no one else is going to do anything about it—that it’s entirely up to you—something inside wells up and bursts out. You’re drowning in an ocean of false identity and you need air! You’re in some deep, dark water now my friend. The sharks of doubt and fear swim beneath your feet. The storm of regret and self-loathing looms on the horizon. Waves of familiar voices crash all around you, “You’re crazy!” “What are you doing?” “You’ll never be anything without me!” “It’s too late to change your mind.” “You’re too old/too young/not smart enough/not pretty enough/not… etc.” You struggle to keep your head above water and you can’t see land anywhere.
You start to think that maybe everyone else is right and this whole “living your truth” thing is a farce. Just when you start to think about giving up you get angry. “I will not give up now! I refuse! I’m sick and tired of being a bystander in my own life! How dare they presume to know me better than I know myself! That’s it… I’m going my own way.” And you start to swim with a renewed vigor, determined to make your life your own you keep swimming. With each stroke you get closer and closer. You can feel yourself growing stronger and more confident. Every wave, every nibble at your heels, threatens to slow you down but you don’t give in. You just keep swimming. After what feels like an eternity passes you finally see the shore. You crawl out of the water, lay panting on the soft sand, and start laughing hysterically. Laughing turns to tears and then to laughter again.
You’ve come home to yourself and the future is wide open with possibilities.
The world doesn’t need a carbon copy of any celebrity, politician, religious figure, or any other human being for that matter. What the world needs is you. There has never been and never will be another just like you. Why would you want to give that up? Our uniqueness is one of the few things in life that people can’t take from us—only we can give it away. Be you, because everyone else is already taken. Be you; it’s the perfect fit. Be you. You’re enough just as you are.
Be you because the world needs a “you.”
Editor: Dana Gornall