This I Believe

Jami - Papillion, Nebraska
Entered on December 15, 2006
Age Group: Under 18
Themes: integrity
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“En Sus Ojos”

As kids, we hear it all the time, and we hear it everywhere, “Be yourself,” they’ll all say. They’ll tell you that “the best person to be is you”. They’ll even say that “nobody could be better at being you than you can.” And from that day on we’ll think that people want us to be ourselves. But we’re wrong. I believe that in society, because of social norms and stereotypes, people do not allow themselves to ever be their truest self.

This thought is not only a real travesty; it is also a real reality. I think this for a number of reasons, but one great example of something that inhibits people from being their true self is simply the law. Because of laws, especially those that limit personal choices, it’s never okay to have a problem that breaks one of those laws.

But law breakers are not the only ones who have trouble being their honest self. Take for instance people who are just “nice” people–or who are perceived to be. Because of that perception, they have a whole new persona that, regardless of what they actually want to do, they have to do the nice thing–or else face exposure.

Is it that these specific groups of people are not strong enough to stand up and take pride in who they are? Not at all. Almost everyone, in some facet of their lives will tuck away their genuine self, and hide behind a mask of falsehood. Consider even when just associating with a group of people that one isn’t good friends with or maybe doesn’t even care for. In these situations, I know by experience that the conversation is never gripping, and no one says what they really want to say. Everyone would rather sit quietly and patiently wait for their turn to talk, while pretending they think anyone cares what they have to say. This happens not because we are all extremely social beings, but rather because it’s not “normal” to sit alone, or to not be in on a conversation when the possibility exists to do so.

The whole idea of a society construed around misconceptions and twisted perceptions is a troubling one indeed, but it’s the one in which we live. In society today, people are simply taught from a young age that some thoughts they might have and feelings they might feel are inappropriate and that being alone when the chance is there to talk to someone would cause people to think one an outcast. On the other hand, a society made up of people who were what they said they were would be a great dream, but one in which everyone, for fear of being judged by others, would never try for. Therefore I believe that, only when societal norms are disbanded will people be able to be themselves.