Why are we afraid to be ourselves?
You, I and everyone around us are constantly acting on a grand stage. We act around our friends, we act around our parents, we act around new people we meet and we act around strangers. Every aspect of every day is spent constantly censoring ourselves so that we can please as many people as possible. Of course, we’re taught from an early age that we must act different ways according to who’s around us. Out to dinner with the family is a completely different way of acting then with your friends in the schoolyard.
A friend once said to me, “Think about how many times a day you hold back a comment or opinion, lie or keep a secret, are afraid to admit something to your friend for fear of being left by that person or group. But why do you care? If they don’t like you for who you are why would you want to be friends with them in the first place?” I posed this question to another friend of mine and he said, “We do all this because we yearn for acceptance and want to be loved by others.” But what we end up with is a bunch of friends and acquaintances who know the “fake” you, the act you play.
The school environment we spend most of our young lives in creates a breeding ground for child actors. Kids who do not conform are bullied and thus as young children we strive to fit the norm, but by doing so we lose our individuality and begin acting. We want to be liked, we never want to feel alone, but by acting we surround ourselves with friends who don’t like us for who we really are, they only like our act, our character.
Think about who you are alone. A place where you have no one to please, no societal norms to uphold. Who are you really? Because some of us get so lost in our characters that we in turn lose ourselves. Some might say that is a completely sound way to live but I must disagree with them. That is no way to live.
A professor of mine once told me in a meeting, “You’ve built a shell around your body, one that protects you from the scrutiny of others. You’re acting, you’re not the real you. When we conversate you open up and I can see who you really are, but in class you put on a show for all to see, why is that?” I responded that I wasn’t quite sure, I felt like I wanted everyone to feel comfortable around me so I made sure to stand out as a high-energy, likable person. She then said, “But why should you censor who you really are? The way to find true friends is to be yourself, those who like you for you are the people you want to keep around.” I felt as though she had kicked open a door in my head, memories came flooding back to me of times I had attempted to get in with the norm just to escape criticism. She was right, there was no reason for me not to be myself, it was an exhausting endeavor to act every day. From that day onward, I made the promise to myself I would put my best foot forward and try to be only me.
So, my question to the Assumption College community is, are you truly yourself in all aspects of your life? And if not, what are you afraid of? Because if you change your ways and become who you really are, those friends you’re so scared of losing were never your friends in the first place if they can’t accept you for you. You will feel happier with yourself overall if you can drop the act, you may find that people begin to respect you more. Because, when we we try hard to fit in we become everybody and nobody, boring and unnoticeable. But when we become our true selves we stand out from the sea of nobodies. We can say to them, there is no reason to be afraid to be yourself, you can be content in who you are. And perhaps they may follow your example. Like Assumption tells all it’s students, light the way.
Kyle Durant, a sophomore, studies English. He is a staff writer for Le Provocateur.