Wednesday, June 13, 2012

being true to yourself

There are different approaches people can take towards the idea of changing or improving how they function socially. The biggest one is the idea of being true to your natural preferences and tendencies and not trying to change them for other people. This article will talk about that.
The other two general philosophies towards changing are to try and truly alter your personality, and to consciously be pragmatic about how the social world is set up and adapt in order to get what you want out of it. Most people won't go all in on just one approach. They'll apply different philosophies to different areas depending on what's important to them.

General outline of the Be True To Yourself approach

This one doesn't need a ton of explanation. The idea behind it is that in social situations, it's better to be true to whatever your 'default settings' are. There are a few reasons for this. First, this philosophy believes people will just be happier this way, and that trying to change can cause problems. I would tend to agree.
Second, it has an inherent assumption that people have a variety of orientations towards socializing, and one type isn't better or worse than another. Preferring to spend your weekends reading at the cottage isn't inferior to wanting to be hang out with six friends at all times.
Some common areas where people want to be true to themselves are:
  • Liking a lot of alone time
  • Not being into wild, boisterous social events
  • Not being thrilled with rote, superficial types of socializing
  • Having interests that most people don't have, or that others even think are odd or pointless
  • Not being interested in things many people like, such as team sports or pop culture
  • Having an overall personality that many people would consider quirky or different
  • Their core values, beliefs, and philosophies about life (e.g., political or religious beliefs, value systems)
  • Anything that goes against the social norm, and where they pick up a message that it would be better if they brought themselves around to be more like everyone else

If you can swing it, being true to yourself is the best way to go

Out of the three philosophies towards changing - this one, being pragmatic, and truly trying to change - this is the best option. It's just better for people's souls to do what comes naturally and not feel like they have to change or compromise to get by in the world. Even when being true to yourself creates some friction, it's often worth it in exchange for being able to live day to day knowing you're staying true to your values.
The big question is whether it's feasible to be totally, completely true to yourself at all times. Different people will think about that question themselves and come to their own conclusions. I'll talk about that more below.

Benefits of being true to yourself

Aside from the general peace of mind it can bring, being true to yourself can be the way to go for other reasons.

Some things you just shouldn't have to change

Some things are too central to a person's identity to change for social reasons. For example, a person's religious beliefs or sexual identity may lead them to look or act in a way that's different from your typical person. There are intolerant people in the world who may not like that.
If someone was 100% cold, practical, and pragmatic they may say, "Well on a day to day basis it would be easier for that person to just dress and act in a way that's more acceptable to the mainstream." Uh, no. People shouldn't have to submerge their core identities just because it may be superficially practical. I mean it's one thing to say, "Hm, I have a bad habit of arguing with people too much, I'll try to cut that out." It's another to go, "I'll stop dressing in accordance with my religious values because some people may not be sure how to take it."

Almost everyone can find a niche they fit into

It's not true that if someone is different from the norm, their only option is to conform or be lonely and left out in the cold. Whatever you're like, and whatever you're into, you can probably find a group of like-minded people to fall in with if you look hard enough (even if there aren't people physically in your area, there's always the internet). People naturally sort themselves into groups based on similarities. Obviously, you're going to be happier, more accepted, and feel less constrained around people you have a lot in common with.

You can often get by just fine by being yourself

There are hoards of people out there who differ from their friends or partners in some way, but they're still perfectly accepted. Maybe their friends all like hockey but they're up front about not particularly caring about it. However, since they're solid people in lots of other ways, they're still welcomed into the group. As a general rule, the more you have to offer socially in other areas, the more you can get away with differing from the majority on some issues and still be accepted.

Most people have some aspects of themselves that don't fit into the norm

Occasionally you'll meet people who are walking embodiments of the totally average, mainstream person. It must be convenient to go through life having your every urge and whim just happen to fall into line with what society prefers. However most people have a bunch of traits that are out of sync with whatever the social ideal is. They stay true to themselves anyways.

It's often your individual differences that make you stand out

When you're with people, to a large extent it's your differences that set you apart from everyone else and make you desirable to be around. Your sense of humor is a little bit different (and funnier) than your other friends'. You know more about a certain topic than everyone else. You have a different perspective on life. Yeah, people often do like to hang out with friends who are a lot like them, but it is often the case that we appreciate someone who brings something novel to the table.

Variety makes life more interesting

I know this sounds cheesy, but life would be more boring if we were all exactly the same. Getting to be around a range of different people makes socializing more unpredictable and rewarding. In small doses even people's personality flaws spice things up a bit. If someone is totally flaky or bossy, that's just irritating, but if they have mild versions of those same traits, it just adds a little color.

No comments:

Post a Comment