“Be Yourself” Is Only Good Advice When You Have Your Shit Together

God & Man

Authenticity is overrated. It’s only good to “be yourself” when your authentic self isn’t a piece of shit. I can already hear the outrage: “What about self-love, self-acceptance, self-esteem, me, me, ME…?!”

Listen: I didn’t tell you not to love and accept yourself. But that’s not the same thing as being yourself. Every human being should feel loved and accepted; by other people, and more importantly, themselves.

That said, “be yourself” is terrible advice in most circumstances. Let’s say you have a husband or wife. You go to a party without your spouse and see a creature so stunning that your head spins around Exorcist-style. You start a conversation and hit it off. Things quickly become a bit flirty. Scandalous…

Suddenly, you feel an urge to invite this magnificent being into your friend’s bedroom for a good time. Your self wants to have sex with a stranger even though that would require you to commit adultery. Clearly, your self cannot be trusted to make significant decisions. Go home, self. You’re drunk!

Admittedly, this analogy is a bit of a stretch. I’ve never gone to a party and met a woman who looked like she fell from heaven (at least not one who would sleep with me). Still, it does illustrate my point: “Be yourself” is bad advice when you’re in a situation that calls for self-control.

The amount of self-control it took to write this article was STAGGERING. I’d rather be masturbating. Touching myself won’t do anything for my writing career, though, so here I am…putting in the work…even though my self would rather be doing something else.

Maybe someday I’ll be genuinely productive. Until then, I’ll continue to say “fuck authenticity” and do the unnatural thing. Want to lose weight, save money, or start a business? Then you better get used to doing things you don’t really want to do. Life is hard. Deal with it.

Are you familiar with this Marilyn Monroe quote? I’ve seen it on more dating profiles than I can recall: “I’m selfish, impatient, and a little insecure. I make mistakes, I am out of control, and at times hard to handle. But if you can’t handle me at my worst, then you sure as hell don’t deserve me at my best.”

That’s the dumbest shit I’ve ever heard. No offense to Marilyn (R.I.P.), but she sounds like a nightmare. How did this become an “inspirational” quote? It’s nothing more than a justification for awful behavior. When you’re in a relationship, don’t you expect your partner to act like a fully grown adult? I hope so!

Cute sayings such as this enable people to “be themselves” (instead of critically analyzing their faults so they can become a better human). I’ll be the first person to admit it: I am an asshole at times. But when I do something that pisses a close friend or partner off, I don’t proclaim: “If you can’t handle me today, then you don’t deserve me when I’m more tolerable!”

Instead, I apologize and clean up the mess (unless they’re just being ridiculous about something trivial). Sometimes I even identify a character flaw that needs to be addressed, which is nothing to cry about. You’ve can’t forge a sword before you expose it to fire. And you can’t reach your full potential before you receive some criticism. Take the heat. You’ll be stronger for it.

“Be yourself” is ignorant advice that’s peddled by self-help authors and motivational “gurus” who are more interested in making you feel good about yourself than helping you learn and grow. Fuck them! Love and accept yourself for who you are (but don’t be yourself until you’ve earned the right to do so). Share this article with your friends, because the masses are in dire need of a reality check. Thought Catalog Logo Mark

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