Be yourself: let them fall in love with the real you
Oh yes – we all want to be understood, accepted, appreciated and loved for who we are. We also want to be recognised by others, we want them to say: ‘Yes, I like you, I want to spend time with you. I want you to stick around. I value your company.’
When we are kids, our parents tell us what the world is like. They also tell us who we are, what is good for us and how we should behave. They often give us conflicting messages: ‘I love you. But only if you do this and that. I will love you more if you put your toys in the box. I don’t love you when you are crying. If you don’t do this, I will be very upset.’
And so we learn that in order to get love, we need to behave in a certain way. Which can be good for us, but if they do it in a way that makes us conclude we are not worthy of love just as we are, and we need to earn it – it is bound to create a lot of problems in our adult relationships. As we grow up, more people tell us how they would like us to behave. The media tell us how our bodies should look like. Our friends in school tell us what is ‘cool’ and what we need to do and have to be ‘popular’. Parents slowly lose their influence, but our peers take over. By then we’ve learned: in order for others to like and accept me, I must behave in a certain way. I must fit in – unless I want to live on the outskirts of my social group. And most of us comply, since loneliness and rejection feels so much harder to bear.
Then you become an adult, and come into your 20s and your 30s. You gradually realise you don’t want to be ‘tailored to a fit’ – and you start feeling really bad because you are not expressing and being true to yourself, your desires, your passions, your wishes, your dreams. At that time you come to understand it is not so bad to be different. And it’s not so bad to be yourself at all.
And then you meet someone. You really like them. You want them to really like you back. But you have absolutely no clue how to make them do that. Should you pretend to be the person you think they might like? Or should you just be yourself and hope they will like you as you are? But what if they don’t – and they go away? What if nobody ever likes you as you are? What it the people who like you are not really the ones you want to be with? What if…?
Even if you are reasonably certain you are OK just the way you are, you still have some doubts. Especially when someone breaks up with you, or just doesn’t show any interest at all. Or if you have had a string of such situations, which then reinforce the thought that ‘you must be doing something wrong’.
If you want to play the ‘like me’ game, you may or may not get more fans, but you will definitely lose sense of who you are. And you will by large attract people who also have no idea who they are. You may or may not like them – but they won’t be showing their true self either, so what’s the difference? How will you know you’ve found someone who is right for you if you are both pretending to be something you are not?
And so one day, as The Talking Heads say: ‘…you may find yourself in a beautiful house, with a beautiful wife, and… you may ask yourself, well, how did I get here?’
It is hard to fight the feeling that we need to behave a certain way or hide parts of our personality to make people like us. But in the end, how many friends do you need? How many ‘likes’? Do you want your partner to see you and love you, all of you – or just ‘some parts’? Do you want to love their parts, or their whole being, inside and out?
Don’t be afraid to be yourself, express yourself, live yourself. It is so worth it. Some people won’t like you. Some will be intimidated by you. Some will think you are silly or stupid. But there will always be some who will like you, the real you. And they are the ones that matter.
LET ME HEAR YOUR THOUGHTS
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