Be yourself. Have you ever thought how totally unbearable would life be if EVERYBODY suddenly decided to follow that advice? Before you think I have totally lost it, and I am absolutely sure I am getting angry comments here (or maybe not, because this blog isn't that old and my closest friends tend to be polite), let's think about it a little. [Psychologists, freeze and drop your weapon! Pretend for a moment you are economists or something.]
As I was saying here, I try not to give advice. I'd rather sell them. Really. If advice was so freakin' good, people would not live in a constant advice giveaway spree. However, the problem lies deeper than that. Some kinds of advice can sometimes be even harmful.
We should start by separating me from my actions and achievements. I already am myself, good and bad stuff included. Who would I be if not myself? It's crazy! I am myself when I do something bad and when I do something good, when I achieve my goals and when I don't. And, especially, when I'm being stupid. How could I be more myself than that?
On the other hand, people normally say that from a not-so-thoughtful standpoint and they are not really talking about behaving consistently with their ideas, always taking other people into consideration and all that jazz. What they are really saying (in a highly inspirational Carpe Diem kind of way) is do whatever comes to mind in utter disregard to other people's rights or feelings as selfishly as possible. Isn't it so?
I don't know about you, but I'm not nearly as often surrounded by Budas or Gandhis and I do not consider myself a very likable human being 100% of the time either. How in the world would we get along if everybody decided to be their supposedly REAL selves? All the time? That is why we have labeled human behavior as socially acceptable/unacceptable: so we can coexist on this planet.
Weirdly enough, everybody says 'be yourself' as if it would magically grant you life with absolutely no problems and, by following that basic principle, you would promptly have the cosmos and angels working together in order to suddenly make everything right for you and help you succeed in life. No, kiddo, the world will not bend to accommodate who you are. That's bullshit and only children and immature people really think that way. It is too freakin' narcissistic to assume such a thing. Instead, you must grow yourself to adapt to the world.
People would love to go to work on their pajamas (some do, you know), tell their boss he/she is a complete doofus and just tell that neighbor next door to worry about his own business. But the bitter truth is you have to dress accordingly, people with wild green hair will not be hired for an executive position and you had better watch your mouth if you want to have a nice environment in your neighborhood / school / workplace…
I am NOT saying 'throw away your beliefs and live up to what society expects of you' (which would be the anti-be-yourself advice). What I am really talking about here is all the nonsense that young people seem to be more inclined to believe these days. We have to be consistent to our ideas, but there's a limit to that too.
Telling some people to 'be themselves' could be destructive to them because being themselves already sucks big time. They already have too many problems because they are so poorly adapted. If they have absolutely no understanding of what it means to be part of society, you will be giving them even more room to fail. Maybe the best advice to these folks would be something like 'straighten up and fly right or go be a hermit somewhere in Greenland'. De donde no hay no se puede sacar. And why does everybody say 'be yourself' all the time anyway? Are they implying by that we don't need any improvement?