This article is in continuation to my last one “Why do People Pretend” where I talked about our tendency to pretend and hide our true identity. Both in my previous article and in this one, I am not judging anyone for the choices they make for themselves. My intention is to bring forth the reasons and situations that compel us to become someone who we are not. But, unless you are a spy or a detective by profession, hiding your true identity can take you further away from yourself and you will end up living a life in a bubble.
How to be Yourself – The Real Self
Getting real or being your true self is easier said than done. It takes a lot of courage to show the world a person who you really are. This does not mean breaking the social and civil norms and coming out as uninhibited person. You are being real when you decide to ditch the make-up and come out of the house not afraid of what people will think about your beauty. Being real means to be strong enough to accept your mistakes and appreciate others for their efforts.
Why do We Hide Our True Self
We are social animals and we tend to move in a group. Walking alone is a daunting task for us and seems like a challenge most of the times. So, to be able to gel with a group, we mold ourselves. Sometimes, we hide our true self because we think too much. We think about everyone who might be thinking about us. And in the process, we end up thinking about others more than ourselves. Let’s see some more reasons why we hide our true self:
Acceptance– Have you been in a position where you pretended to be a bully just because it meant you will be accepted in a high-school famous group? Have you seen yourself becoming a gossip monger because it secured a position in the most happening club of the town. As human beings, we all long for acceptance from others esp. the ones in our social circle. We hide our real self when we feel it could prevent us from being accepted in the society.
Validation from Others – You are more inclined to hide your true self if you are one of those people for whom validation from others is of utmost importance. It could be a validation on your beauty, body, lifestyle, knowledge, and everything that belongs to you.
Expectations – You change yourself when your real personality does not gel with the expectations of your parents, in-laws, spouse, or friends.
Lack of Confidence – You also tend to hide your real self when you are not confident about yourself. You are always worried about how people will perceive you or think about you.
Holier than Thou Image – Some people are obsessed with maintaining a holier than thou image of themselves. It becomes a problem when they attach this obsession with their happiness quotient. Their happiness depends on how successfully they are maintaining their image.
Does being Real means becoming a Lone Warrior
Almost all of us have read ‘The Fountainhead’ by Ayn Rand and have been inspired by the main protagonist, Howard Roark who is an epitome of individualism. I was in my college when I first read ‘The Fountainhead.’ I have to say, like millions of others in this world, this novel changed me forever. For those who have not read it, Howard Roark is an architect who does not conform to the ideals of society. He is strong-headed, stubborn, and convinced about his vision. He sees the future beyond anyone’s imagination and is not afraid to stand alone and work with integrity and conviction on his dream.
The novel was written in 1943 and till today, even after seven decades, it resonates with us. Surprising, but it is true that there has been no generation gap when it comes to this novel. It is because we still find ourselves bound with the expectations and validations of the society. It is scary to think everyone against us and we standing alone. But we do come out. When pushed to the wall, we come out and face the reality. When our convictions and beliefs are strong enough to give us confidence to stand alone, we stand up and we speak.
Yes, sometimes being real does mean becoming a lone warrior. You were a lone warrior, when you went ahead and picked someone up while others were laughing. You were a lone warrior, when you fought against the general convention of beauty in society and decided not to use fairness creams or when you decided to pick your bag and travel the world while others joined college.
So, is becoming a Howard Roark the right answer? Should we be the lone warrior in every situation of life.
Finding Your True Self
In order to survive in this society, we need to find a balance. We can’t be real all the time and we can’t pretend all the time. We need to discover a thin line which if we cross will make us strong-headed, stubborn, or sometimes an outcast. However, not crossing that thin line sometimes could also make us all accepting gullible person with no voice of our own. So, how to find your true self? How to be the Howard Roark and still be part of the society.
Be proud of yourself– You should be proud of how far you have come along in your life. Your struggles, hardships, and education are what have made you. Take pride in your achievements and never be shy to show the real person you are.
You don’t need acceptance/Validation from others– Besides following the basic rules of the government and society, your decisions in life, your affinity, devotion, favoritism, or inclination are yours and you should not change any of these for the fear of someone not accepting you.
Read More– Reading about other people lives and how they conquered their fears. It will inspire you to be assured about yourself and you will be confident to show the world who you really are.
Don’t fall into the trap of becoming a Saint– We all have our virtues and vices and we should accept those as a part of our existence. Anyone who says he/she is above all vices needs a reality check. Once you will accept yourself with your faults, you will no longer be spending your energies in trying to cover them up.
How Real are You Test– I have jotted down some questions that will help you assess how far or close are you from the reality. So, let’s take a test and enjoy the revelations.
- Have you found your passion in life?
- Are you doing what you always wanted to do?
- Do you spend most of your time maintaining an image to feel superior?
- Have you changed yourself for your parents, partner, children, and friends?
- Have you left your partner or friend because of what people will say?
- Do you lie to others about your affinities and likings because it might go against your false image?
- Have you hidden your political/social allegiance from your friends or family because they may not approve of it?
- When was the last time you accepted your mistake?
- Have you walked out of a discussion which was demeaning to a certain person, cast, religion, sex, group, or country?
- Do you crave for starting it all over again?
A Quote to End With…
“The secret is to have a sense of yourself, your real self, your unique self. And not just once in a while, or once a day, but all through the day, the week and life.” ― Bill Murray