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Never stop being yourself even if those around you don’t like it

By Nina Steele 

Are you easily influenced by people around you or do you do things your way, even if it means upsetting a few people along the way? If you answer yes to the latter then we have something in common. Indeed, I recently had to make a stand against a few people who have taken exception to the fact that I don’t socialise with them. I was once told that I am a hard person to follow. On the one hand I am this outgoing and confident person who can always be heard laughing, yet on the other hand, I prefer home to nights out.

I enjoy quiet times and my husband feels the same. Unfortunately, in today’s very noisy and busy world, many people believe that they have to be seen to be doing something. This is one of reasons why I find friendships so trying at times. The expectation is that you will hold the occasional dinner party, go out with friends fairly regularly, be on the phone to them etc. Add to that the fact that you have to keep in contact with your relatives, and before you know it, you are constantly running around, trying to be all things to all people.

I refuse to be such a person, not because I don’t see the value of having friends, but because I love the peace of spending time with just my husband. Quiet times for me are priceless which is why I was rather amazed to read that many people would rather electrocute themselves than sit in silence as reported in this Guardian article.

If there is one thing I won’t allow, it is to change who I am in order to make people around me feel comfortable. To quote Ralph Waldo Emerson: “To be yourself in a world that is constantly trying to make you something else is the greatest accomplishment.” We are all meant to like the same things, chase the same material possessions, keep up with each other and so naturally, choosing to be different can feel like a lot of work at times. Generally speaking, people like to be surrounded by other people who behave and act like them, because it validates their own choices and gives them a sense of security. The last thing they want is someone who reminds them of what they are not.

To be happy in today’s world therefore, you need courage. The courage to stand up to those around you and live a life that is authentic, as opposed to blindly following everyone. For, the sad truth is that most of the people who we follow blindly are generally unhappy themselves, because just like you, they are also living inauthentic lives. Do you really want people like that to have power over you?

Not only did I make a stand but this whole episode has healed a part of me that I have found to be the most challenging to deal with (it is a continuous process and so I have to be vigilant for as long as I live). It is the part of us that cares too much about what others think of us. The part of us that want to be liked. The part of us which holds us back from becoming who we are meant to be. It is the mask that people put on because it means that they don’t have to do the hard work.

The problem is that by suppressing your true self, you are denying yourself the peace and joy that comes with living an authentic life. Like I said before, it takes absolute courage to be happy in today’s world. That courage we all share. Some are choosing to use it, while others are still too afraid. The price of not using it is too great and once you do, you will find that there is no going back.

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