Being true to yourself is a lovely cliché to be used in times of decision-making, or consoling after the decision-making. But I find the concept to be very flawed.
When someone changes things about how they live their life, treat people, or treat themselves – others tend to resist. They think those people are conforming, they’ve lost themselves, and are no longer “being true to themselves” That resistance, however, certainly comes from a place of fear. It’s scary to watch people change from what you knew them as. What if they become different than the person you loved? What if they love you differently? I believe the same thing happens to yourself. Maybe you want to change, but that same fear creeps in. What if I lose the persona I’m so comfortable in? What if my friends don’t support me?
Your true, authentic self is a thing you create. Sure, you’re born with all kinds of traits and tendencies. But as you grow, mature, meet people, have experiences, meet the internet… you’re going to change every single day. You’ll like music you didn’t know before. Use new words you just learned. Form a concept of who you want to be, and show people the parts you want them to see. There’s no beautiful, perfect, essential being within you that if you dig deep enough you can feel and let it guide you. I don’t think that is what staying true to yourself is… but rather, that it should be new, and ever-changing.
Don’t be true to yourself, be true to the self you want to be.
I honestly wish that everyone felt comfortable shedding their (unhealthy) personas that they’ve created. The Party Animals – doing it because they think that people think its cool and fun. The Bad Boy/Girl. The Bitch. The Apathetic. The Homophobic/Racist/Sexist. Just because it is who you have been does not mean it is who you have to be.
Over my lifetime of being a chunker, I’ve always heard the theory about how people have a hard time losing weight because they feel comfortable and safe in their bigger bodies. It is what they know, and the unknown is too scary to face. And I always thought “Oh pshaw!” (my grandpa would say that!). “I want to be skinny SO BAD, there is no way I’m subconsciously happier like this!” You know what, though? The fear of the unknown is very real. And being a healthy weight is very unknown to me, whether I can tap into that emotion or not, I am sure it’s there… making things just a little more difficult to change.
Even changing to a vegan diet. A big part of my persona had been a true Food Lover. Exotic meats, offal, and strange things – Shannon likes those! If a restaurant had foie gras on top of bone marrow – Shannon would love it! It was indeed a part of what people saw me as. And that had to change. Friends still take much delight in talking to me all about the meats they are eating for dinner. If I had “stayed true to myself” – I’d have kept eating meat. Instead, I took a different path, changing that truth about myself.
Truths are not constant and infallible. And self truths are what YOU want them to be. Don’t continue to base your “true self” on who you have been historically. Base it on the current way that you think is the happiest, healthiest, most kind way of being.
You can change, and you should change.
PS… this post is not a vegan message. I just included that because it was pertains to me personally. The “change” I am alluding to is anything that you don’t like about yourself, or things that are holding you back.