I believe in being yourself. This topic comes up regularly in life. ‘Just be yourself’ is what parents often tell their children when they go to them with problems. Often times though, parents don’t realize how hard that can be.
When I was in seventh grade, this was challenging for me. One of my close friends was struggling with peer pressure. She spent all of her time figuring out what the new gossip was, who was wearing what, and how to be friends with the popular crowd. She went from being my best friend to someone I hardly even recognized. She never realized what she was doing to herself. Whenever anybody tried to talk to her about how she had changed, she merely dismissed it as a rumor. She was trying to find out who she was according to other peoples’ rules. Even though she went through all of this trouble, nothing got better for her. Her grades dropped, she had more fights with her new friends, and she wasn’t able to concentrate in volleyball.
By the time eighth grade year rolled around, she and I had patched the rips in our torn friendship. I’ve lost contact with her now; however, I learned a very important lesson from her. I learned something that we frequently overlook– you don’t need to search to find yourself, you are exactly where you should be; right in front of your eyes, or rather, right behind them.
Being oneself is often over-analyzed. When I am told to be myself, my first instinct is to figure out who I am. I start to ponder what makes me, me, and how I came to be that way. I have to take a moment to remember that by thinking about myself, I am not actually being me.
What I believe makes someone who they are is how they feel, how they act, what their favorite hobbies are, who their friends are; what they believe in. Even though these things appear elementary, they can be the hardest things to sustain, and they often create quandaries for people. It may seem easy to leave your cheerful, laughing, new friends to comfort an old one. Even though the choice to be with the old friend is instinctive, it is not always that easy. When I choose my new friends the enjoyment is fleeting. Being with my old friend may not seem as attractive as being with my new friends, but is more satisfying to my true self. Whenever I’ve chosen my old friends over my new ones, in the end, it has always been a more rewarding choice for me.
It is hard to stay true to yourself when there are many things in the world to distract you. I believe in people being themselves, and even though it can be difficult at times, the strength of their characters will always win out. This I believe.
If you enjoyed this essay, please consider making a tax-deductible contribution to This I Believe, Inc.