THERE'S A DIFFERENCE BETWEEN BEING TRUE TO YOURSELF AND BEING A SELF-CENTRED, EGOTISTICAL, NARCISSIST
Wheeeewwww, no holds barred on that title, then?
Let's go back almost four years. I started working with someone who is all about “being true to yourself”, “follow your own path”, and “if people don't like it, that doesn't mean anything about you, it means something about them, so ignore it”.
I needed to hear that. I needed permission to believe in myself and do what I thought was right. It was so good to be in among people who believed that they had a right to speak up about whatever they felt the need to and do what they felt was right to them.
But there was always something that didn't feel right about it all, I felt a little icky, and I put it down to having suppressed my own desires and feelings for so long after being a stay-at-home mum for a decade or so.
The thing I've come to realise lately is that I am actually really clear about what's acceptable to me and what's not, and how it occurs for me is:
WOULD I ACCEPT THAT BEHAVIOUR FROM MY CHILDREN?
Once I look at from that perspective, it's much easier (though it may take me a little while to work my way through it! I need a child to discuss it with!).
Like I've said on any number of occasions, I am all for doing what's right for you and following your own path.
We all live in the world together and I believe that the best basic rule for life is to treat others as you like to be treated.
If your behaviour has a negative impact on someone else, DON'T DO IT.
This isn't about what someone would make your behaviour mean or anything like that, it's more along the lines of don't steal from someone, don't cause actual pain to someone, don't do something that you wouldn't like to be on the receiving end of yourself.
Follow your own path, but do it with respect, for yourself and others.
Don't mock others or make them wrong for the path they're on.
Follow your path with kindness and compassion, being true to your own values.
You don't need to yell “F@#% you, I'm doing it my way! And if you don't like it, I don't want you in my tribe anyway” at every opportunity,
Or tell everyone how amazing you are for doing that and how you don't care what other people think because they're obviously intimidated by you.
That's childish and immature, and smacks of playground politics.
It's a teenager who hasn't yet truly found out who they are.
I know any number of people who have an online business where they shout about how they're going to be themselves regardless of what anyone else thinks and encourage their followers to do the same thing (there's such an oxymoron in that statement!).
I also know any number of those same people, the really loud ones, are very, VERY different in person and are also clear that they have a persona, a character, that they bring out for their online business…
But hold on, isn't their business is based upon teaching people how to be themselves? When they're a different person offline to what they are online? There's a little bit of hypocrisy going on here, methinks.
They're not actors or comedians or radio presenters who have created a persona for the entertainment of their audiences.
These are people who are preaching about something that they don't actually practise themselves. Not fully, anyway.
Being yourself doesn't mean you shout “SCREW YOU!” every five minutes to someone who's trying to contribute to you. Most of us got over that in the 70's with the Sex Pistols. Been there, done that, and grew out of it, sorry.
Shouting “Screw you, I'm going to do it my way!” is basically a tantrum.
I wouldn't accept that behaviour from my kids because it's not in alignment with their core values, it's as simple as that.
You can be yourself without shouting about it from the rooftops, and telling everyone how cool and different you are.
That's narcissistic and egotistical.
It's pure attention-seeking behaviour.
And there is nothing unique or individual about it: teenagers have been doing exactly that for thousands of years.