Being Yourself vs Conforming

“Be yourself, everyone else is already taken.”
-Oscar Wilde

Who am I? And who are you?

Depending on the context of the questions above, one could come up with multitude of answers and/or follow-up questions. Are we talking our identities? Our personalities? Or our respective professions?

One of the most common ideologies which self-help gurus, motivational speakers and life coaches preach is to be yourself.

But what exactly does that entail?

If we act one way at work, another way with friends and another way at a black-tie dinner, are pretending to be people we’re not? Or are we simply channeling appropriate aspects of our personalities befitting the occasion?

Personally, I think it’s more of the latter than the former. Much like life experiences, we all have various aspects of our personalities hidden away.

For example, we all have a little good and a little bad within ourselves. It’s up to us to decide which side we project more. If we project more good than bad, we’re respectable citizens. If it’s the other way around, we’re criminals.

Somewhere along the way, however, there has been a perception of conflict lingering between being yourself and conforming to society.

For example, if we go to a formal occasion, we must dress appropriately. Personally, I don’t see that as conforming in any way even if my preferred attire is usually more casual on a broader level.

I see it more as respecting the environment I’m in. If I go to a wedding wearing a tuxedo when I generally prefer to wear jeans and a t-shirt, I’m respecting the wedding and the bride and the groom.

And that point of view extends itself to adapting your demeanor as well. If you’re at a funeral, it’s best to remain low-key and subtle even if you’re generally a more emphatic person.

And even while doing so, it need not be an act. It can still be channeled from within.

According to me, acting a certain way in a distinctive environment doesn’t always have to go against your self-respect or make you feel like you’re compromising.

Much like an actor intrepreting a role, it’s a blend of your own personality and the environment.

But one thing is for sure, acting or dressing a certain way does not always equating to being someone else.

What does being yourself mean to you? Are you one way with everyone or molding yourself to the surrounding company? If you do mold yourself, do you consider it a compromise? Share your thoughts by commenting below.

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