This is an issue that I’m still struggling with. I’m sure everyone will at one point in their life struggle with this, because there are always times when we start believing that being ourselves isn’t good enough. Ever since we were young, adults would tell us to be ourselves. “Just be yourself, and everything will be ok.”
But will everything be ok? Not always. There are two scenarios: one where you need to be yourself, and one where you need to fight against yourself.
When to be yourself.
Remember in high school, when the popular guys would be the ones that spent all their time on dates, listening to concerts, going to the movies, and doing all the “cool” stuff?
Then you have the “nerds” who are hell bent on studying and shunned by most kids because they’re “uncool”.
In high school, as in all of life, there will always be peer pressure. There will always be pressure to do what the crowd is doing and follow the crowd, because what they’re doing is deemed as “cool” and “the right thing to do”.
But sometimes, it’s best to follow the path less traveled by. For instance, as a kid, I never played video games. In my spare time (ever since I was 9), I would read books about history, economics, psychology, philosophy, biographies of successful people, etc. Of course, I would play sports (all sports in fact, whether it be basketball, soccer, volleyball, kung-fu), etc. At a young age I was instilled by my mother than knowledge and a strong healthy body are more important than anything else. Because I read books and didn’t spend my time playing video games, I was ridiculed. Some, under these circumstances, would cave into peer pressure and do what others are doing. But because I can be stubborn, I didn’t. Know that I reflect back, and I can only laugh at those who mocked me.
My point is, if what you’re doing is something that will be beneficial towards your future (not necessarily what’s popular), you’re on the right track. Keep doing it.
When being yourself isn’t good enough.
Gr. 9 in high school was as a disastrous year for me. I’m not going to get into the details, but let’s just say that all my negative personalities that hindered me could no longer be hidden, and my positive characteristics were pushed to the side because of the bad ones.
Here’s what was holding me back:
- My stubborness. Stubborness can be a good thing, as it deters you from going on the wrong track. Alternatively, it can be a bad thing when you refuse to listen to those that are trying to help you. Unfortunately, I was the later.
- I’ve always been smart. Since age 10, I was identified as being in the top 98 percentile. For things that interest me (economics, history, etc), I could be in the top 99.9 percentile. However, for things that I didn’t like (hated in fact because I was wasting my time studying those things in Gr. 9) such as English literature, I was probably in the top 80 percentile. You can see how much my “IQ” fluctuates based on what I liked or not. In other words, for things that interested me, no one was better. For things that didn’t, I couldn’t care less if I failed it. This was a serious problem, because in order to get into a good university (Harvard, Yale, etc), your average needs to be way up there. So if I showed them a 98% in economics, 80% in English, 96% in American history, I’m pretty sure Harvard would throw my application aside.
- Dreamed too high. Ever since I was a kid, I said I wanted to be rich. I wanted to be ultra-successful. Dream too high, and be easily disappointed. I talked the talk, but couldn’t walk the walk. I though being successful was easy. It isn’t.
Anyways, my mother and I had countless verbal arguments. I remember crying one day, saying that “There’s no way I’ll be successful. I can’t fight against my own weaknesses, because I’ll be fighting against myself, who I am, and what makes me, me. That’s not possible.” Eventually, I realized something. Why is it that so many people try to be successful, but only a few reach the promised land? Because your greatest enemy is yourself. You’re constantly fighting against yourself, and fighting against your own weaknesses. Those who fall in battle to the top are those who are unwilling to meet their own problems and conquer them. Those who reach the promised land, are always capable and willing to defeat their inner Satan.
Thus, I needed to change myself. Which I did. Being myself just wasn’t good enough. But there were parts of me that I needed to keep.
As I said, certain personalities of mine were (and are) good. Take my pride for example. Back in Gr. 9, I remember my mother telling me “you think you’re a somebody, but truth is, you’re a nobody”. That hurt. When my mother was young, somebody said the same thing to her (I guess that just proves how much we’re alike!).
Those words hit me like a bomb.
But it was the truth. I was ready to give up my goal of being ultra-rich and successful. I was a nobody, until I did something that would make me successful.
But then, my pride kicked in. If I was a nobody, then I would make myself a somebody! Humility never killed anyone. I accepted the fact that I was a nobody, wanted to become a “somebody”, and was willing to work towards that goal. To this day, whenever I slack off, I remind myself of those words.
Now my question to you, the reader, is: Have you ever felt that being yourself wasn’t good enough? Do you believe in just being yourself, or do you agree with what I’m saying?