Recently I was at a roadhouse in outback Queensland ordering some breakfast. The person serving me had a strong accent so I asked her where she was from. She told me she was from Ireland, which I had pretty much gathered but wanted to strike up a conversation.
To keep the conversation going, I replied in my best impersonation of an Irish accent, that “I liked to speak in an Irish accent.”
Without hesitation she turned to me and said in perfect Irish, “That was terrible; please don’t ever do that again, you can’t speak Irish.” We simultaneously burst out laughing at my lame attempt to sound Irish and her classic response.
This was just a momentary, fun interaction. But it did make me think how easy it is to fall into the trap of trying to be someone else.
In a world filled with messages and images telling us that we NEED to look and sound a certain way and HAVE certain things in order to be someone, it can be very easy to lose sight of and underestimate the value who we really are.
I believe one of the main reasons people fall into the trap of trying to be like someone else is...
1) Acceptance from others, which then leads to…
2) Acceptance of one’s self.
Maslow's “Hierarchy Of Needs” rates self actualisation and esteem at the peak of human needs. So acceptance is vitally important to our well being.
Unfortunately I believe we often get ACCEPTANCE mixed up with APPROVAL.
To gain approval you have to meet certain criteria. I.e., "You have to look, dress and sound a certain way to be one of us." Whereas acceptance responds, “You are great just as you are.”
We are actually not supposed to be like everyone else. We are born to be different; to be ourselves. So approval shouldn’t come into it. We should be confident to be ourselves and see value in our uniqueness.
I think Dr Seuss sums it up perfectly when he writes...
“Today you are you, that is truer than true. There is no one alive who is youer than you.”
Being you is something to be proud of and striving to be the best you is a far better use of time than trying to be someone you are not, no matter how good that may seem.
There are things we can strive for that we see in others and would like in our own life. But at the core of our existence should be the desire to discover who we are, our purpose, and how we can use our uniqueness to bring meaning into our own life and to add value to the world around us.
A jigsaw puzzle piece only fits in by being different to all of the other pieces. In fact it’s vitally important for a puzzle piece to be different or the whole puzzle would be missing something.
It’s the same with people. The best thing in life you can be is YOU. If not for yourself, I can guarantee that someone else out there in the world needs you to be you because you have been created with the very thing they need. It's true...
And in a world that can sometimes lack authenticity, being you may just help a child to find the courage to be themselves too.
©Ian McIntosh 2018