There are a lot of things in life we have to seek out knowledge and teach ourselves to do. Others are just human instinct like breathing or sleeping (I’m really good at both of those). And then there are the things we learn subconsciously through experience …whether we want to learn them or not.
If you have a child, then you know that before they even learn to speak, they learn to lie. It usually comes around the time you start asking if they have some business in their diaper that needs tending to. I’m dead serious. We could be watching our daughter IN THE ACT and she would swear she wasn’t. And for what reason!?! It’s not like she ever got punished. She simply got a clean rear end and, if I was the one changing her, a brief jingle as I was trying to get her pants back over the diaper butt … “Get it up over that jLo boooty”. (It was real cute when she started singing it with me. Parenting win!)
Another thing we seem to learn inadvertently, far too early in life, is the instinct to hide who we really are. Whether it’s parents asking why you can’t be more like so-and-so or kids at school paying less attention to you and more attention to someone else, eventually we start shifting who we are and who we want to be, in an effort to be who THEY want us to be (or at least who we THINK they want us to be). The end result… an inauthentic YOU.
The irony of trying to be something you’re not in order to please others is that it tends to have the opposite effect. You either don’t fit in because your attempts have made you even more odd (that was me) or you do fit in, but people don’t trust you because it’s obvious you’re hiding something …you appear two-faced (that was most of the popular girls in middle school).
The older I get, the more obvious it becomes that this behavior never serves me. I’ve had things to hide and a long list of embarrassing habits, but I am most joyfully happy when I am 100% ME without apology. And the more ME I am, the more I attract people who like me FOR me. It’s no mistake that those people are also the kind of people I want to be around as well — not just because they like and accept me (though that certainly doesn’t hurt), but because we tend to share similar interests, opinions and values. And when we don’t, we love and respect each other enough to be different, instead of trying to cover up how we really feel.
If there’s one thing I hope to instill in my daughter, it’s that being yourself will always lead you where you want to go. You can still get places being someone else, but one way or another, you won’t be happy once you get there. Be YOU!