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How to be yourself (and not worry about anyone else)


Have you ever had one of those days where you look in a mirror and don’t know who you are?  Maybe you have a parent who’s impossible to satisfy.  Or you have a friend who’s been showing disapproval over every decision you’ve been making lately.  You’re so caught up in trying to make these people happy that when you stop to take a look at yourself, you aren’t sure of what exactly you’re seeing.  Or worse—you may not like what you see.

This is a breaking point; the time has come for you to break away from other people and their opinions.  Of course it’s important to listen to your family and friends, but when you get to the point where everything you do is an effort to please somebody else, it’s time to step back and take inventory of your life and priorities.

First, you must realize that this is your life.  Everyone else has their own life that they can do whatever they’d like with.  You know how you can’t really control what other people think or do, no matter how hard you try?  The same applies to you; nobody can control you.  They may be able to influence you or tell you what they want for you, but at the end of the day you are the one who makes the final decision.  You are the only one with the power to control your life.

Once you embrace that idea, it’s time to start being honest.  What do you like?  What do you want?  What do you need?  Honesty is a crucial component of any relationship, whether it’s with family, friends, co-workers, or a significant other.  But honesty is also absolutely necessary in having a successful relationship with yourself.  Nobody knows you like you do.  It may seem that a friend or lover can read your mind, but nobody can begin to imagine the true extent of your needs or desires.  It is therefore absolutely critical that you start being honest with yourself.  Whether it’s a question of how badly you want the fat free skim soy latte over the caramel fudge one or if you really want to go to law school or move across the country, you need to answer yourself honestly.

And finally, be selfish.  That might sound like bad advice, or rather crass at the very least, but it’s an essential final step that ties in closely with the first bit of advice, or realizing that you are living your own life.  Maybe everyone else wants you to be a doctor, or start wearing more color, or to settle down and start a family already, or to go to church more—but is that what you want?  If not, then don’t do it.  Perhaps you’ll come off looking like a bad person or people will think low of you.  But in the words of the ever-wise RuPaul, “What other people think about me is none of my business.”

Consider for a moment that maybe the people who insist on telling you how to live are unsatisfied with their own lives.  That’s something you can’t really help or change.  The only thing you can do is ensure that you find satisfaction and fulfillment with what you do and within yourself.  Regardless of what creed or religion you may believe in or follow, I think we can all agree that we might as well make our lives one worth living and a source of happiness.  So next time your best friend passes excessive amounts of judgment on you or your parents tell you that you’re doing everything wrong, keep your head up.  Take into consideration what they say, but be honest with yourself and do what you feel you need to do.  Nobody knows you as well as you do, and nobody can do you quite like you.

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About the Author

Lindsey J. Gooden

Lindsey is a spooky girl and semi-goth living in Minneapolis with her handsome Taurus and baby cat, appropriately named after a demon. She is a chronic day-dreamer, imagining life as a best-selling novelist or a mortician. When she isn't reading or scribbling in her diary, she's chilling with her girlfriends, embarking on adventures, and doing her best to be the girl with the most cake. She's very shy and a lot like you, only obsessed with Trent Reznor.