As a teenager, the phrase is constantly repeated to me, even though I am still in the midst of exploring my identity and who
I really am.
However, when I hear the phrase, I have to remind myself that I am not the “me” society refers to. I am not my outward appearance, my grades, my athletic abilities, or whatever role these characteristics might prepare me to portray. Instead, I have to remind myself that the genuine essence of who I am is defined through my soul; the only source of true authenticity in this inauthentic world. The soul is the purity of the matter you come to Earth with, long before you are molded to fit into the puzzle that constructs our society today.
In this world, it is difficult to be freed from the puzzle that we are unconsciously trapped in, and a part of, because people do not even realize that society promotes inauthenticity. To “be yourself”, one must look at his or her own identity. But how is identity found?
In our society, the people and the environment around you constantly influence who you are. They determine the ideas and lifestyles that you are exposed to and the range of options you may have for learning what you like or don’t like, what you want, or what you believe. So in our society we must rely on one another to “be yourself.” The concept that most people mean when they say, “be yourself” then, is not truly who you are in the inside.
That is why we must refer back to the authentic source – the soul – to explore our higher selves and get to know identity at a more profound level. Although some of us know that we are not our human body and instead are beings from a much greater level, it’s easy to become wrapped up in the human experience.
We might not realize it, but we are all unconsciously lured by the desire to fit in. Sometimes this can go unnoticed, as we become accepted as members of a group that shares similar perspectives. In the process of fitting in, we often relinquish our individuality. We become like the people we are surrounded by. We absorb the group’s beliefs and values, allowing our personal views to evaporate over time.
So “be yourself” is inherently limiting since “you” are molded through cultural influences that can contradict the true self. “Be your self” is tainted with limitations and restrictions. This is why we must constantly ask ourselves, “Does the outer match the inner? Am I being myself, my true self? Or am I striving to conform, to fit into the cultural pegs?”
To truly be yourself is to honor your soul, your higher self. Look within versus outward to explore who you really are. When you find yourself unexplainably joyful and peaceful, you are on the path to authenticity. And on this path and the journey shedding of what’s not you, you will rediscover what it means to “be yourself.”
Ayesha Patel is a high school student who strives to see the bigger picture of life and existence.