The Difficulty of Just Being Yourself

April 1, 2014 — 14 Comments


I have two conversations lined up today that are making me nervous. They are full of wild opportunity and potential, so on the one hand, my hopes are high. But on the other hand, I’m anxious, and that hand seems to be quite a bit heavier.

So I emailed my beautiful, risk loving family yesterday for encouragement. To a person, they all cheered me on, piling on generous (and frankly, some unprintable) dollops of praise for my ability to think on my feet and do well in these types of conversations.

They all told me to “just be myself,” and everything would take care of itself. So I breathed in their good advice to just be myself. I smiled, a little undone by their unbridled confidence in me. This is what my family has always done. We believe in each other, no matter what we’re up for or up against. We tell each other we love each other, and to Go. For. It.

But then I panicked a little.

Which version of myself should I be?

The one that rambles on and on because I’m actually quite nervous, repeating what I’ve already said a quadrillion different ways, hoping that in the repeating I might actually figure out what I’m saying?

Or the one that doesn’t want to appear arrogant, so I pile all my words in a blender, adding sugar to them so they’ll have no edge and go down easy?

Or the one that is so eager to impress that I make lists of things to talk about beforehand in case I get lost or in case there is a – gasp – pause in the conversation (which is exactly what I did in eighth grade before calling girls that I liked)?

Or the one that has nothing to lose?

Or the one that has everything to lose?

Or the one that is trying to believe he has nothing to lose, but fears he has everything to lose?

Or the one that overanalyzes everything?

Here’s the thing with just being yourself: you’re complex and nuanced, different in the morning than in the evening. Your moods roll in and out like the tide; one moment you’re losing it because your husband left a glob of jelly on the counter (which he ALWAYS does), the next moment you’re weeping because you just love those Bravermans so much.

Some days you have a quiet confidence which seems effortless, but on other days even short conversations are difficult, as waves of insecurity wash over you, knocking you down, drowning you.

Some days you are willing to take risks because you’ve recently realized that your one wild and precious life really is wild and precious, but on other days even the smallest change tugs at the string which could unravel the whole ball.

So here’s what I would want to tell myself today, if I could climb outside of my eager, over analytical, write-a-blog-about-it-before-actually-doing-it, self:

Being myself happens when I begin to stop judging myself. Constantly wondering how well I did at being myself is not being myself. Carefully mapping out a strategy to be myself is not being myself. It is only when I begin to let go of trying hard to be myself that I can begin to embrace my actual self.

I remember being interviewed for a job about a dozen years ago, when I thought I was going to take a different job. Because I thought I wasn’t going to take that job, I actually had fun, laughed, and didn’t analyze every sentence that came out of my mouth as it was coming out. I remember feeling great about that interview, and even feeling bummed about it because it really didn’t matter.

And then, things changed, as things do, and I didn’t take the different job. I took that job, the one I interviewed for without judging myself and my responses. Life is hilarious like that, most of the time.

All the pressure I am putting on myself today is made up. It really is. I cannot do better by grasping these conversations tightly and hoping they go well. So, in whatever conversations you’re going to have today where you’ll need to be yourself, I say let it go. The pressure is made up. Enjoy the conversation. Look for the hidden opportunities that will show themselves to the person that isn’t trying so hard.

Then walk right into them, smiling and beautiful and free.

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14 responses to The Difficulty of Just Being Yourself

  1. whoah this blog is great i really like reading your articles.
    Keep up the great work! You know, a lot of people are looking round for this information, you
    could help them greatly.

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    Photoshop CS6 Download recently posted…Photoshop CS6 DownloadMy Profile

  2. Beautifully expressed–you’ve been reading my mail, I see.
    Keep up the good work, Steve!

  3. Beautiful! Here’s to being our wildly crazy, wishing to be uninhibited, sometimes insecure selves!

  4. Aah I hope you give us the update later.

    This reminds me of a summary my son gave us after reading Blaise Pascal: it is the nature of man to turn his focus on himself, and this results in either wretchedness or pride. The only proper stance is to keep the focus on God.

    (I’m sure Pascal said it more poetically).

    This reminder has been helpful in matters both large and small.

    Thanks for the honesty Steve.

  5. Perfect words and perfect timing for me because I am presently over-preparing for a meeting/interview where I really want to relax and be myself at. Note to self: “Chuck the research and notes, pray, take a deep breath and go to the meeting.”
    Glenn recently posted…Flu Season on Planet Earth?My Profile

  6. “Then walk right into them, smiling and beautiful and free.”

    Yes. That is what I want to be able to do do too.

    Helpful reflection, Steve.

    Be well.

    Jen @Martymom’s Musings recently posted…Who the Son Sets {Free}…Is Free IndeedMy Profile

  7. So fun (and reassuring, sorry!) to see someone over-analyze as much as I do! You’re a riot … and you make a very good point. Good advice! Thanks for always sharing your heart so transparently, Steve.
    Alyce-Kay Hanush recently posted…A Look Inside: Next Year In New JerusalamMy Profile

  8. So many rueful laughs from reading this –whaddyamean “Constantly wondering how well I did at being myself is not being myself.” ??? What if constant self-criticism IS myself? OK, ok. Thank you Steve. I am in a season of interviews and exploration, so this post was quite timely. I’ll let you know how being myself goes. :)

  9. Yep.
    The best job interview I ever did, happened because I arrived 45 minutes early and had a coke and mars bar before I went in.
    I was hyped up on sugar, and when the very serious HR manager asked me why I had applied for the job, I was unstintingly honest. “When I saw the job in the paper I was like Wow! It could have been written for me! It’s exactly the skillset I have, from the job I had interstate, and exactly the right science domain. You couldn’t have written a better job description for me. Plus, it pays better than state government, and I get to work with really cutting edge scientist and help them share their science!”
    The HR guy laughed at me, and I mentally gave myself a slap on the back of the head and told myself to calm down and act professional. But I got the job.

  10. Great advice. It’s always good to hear I’m not the only one who goes through that. I over-analyze everything, even before the uncomfortable conversation begins, reviewing possible outcomes, whose feelings might get hurt, what I can say that might avoid that, etc. It’s so much easier to just breathe in some peace from above, relax, and trust that by being open, things will get where they need to, whether or not in the way I think they should. It’s a shame that it’s sometimes impossible to remember that, in the midst of it, though!
    Bill Saunders recently posted…The Great Saunders Health Quest – Week 3My Profile

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  2. Day 1 of 100 ~ something to be grateful for… | myspokenheart - April 1, 2014

    […] Being myself happens when I begin to stop judging myself. Constantly wondering how well I did at being myself is not being myself. Carefully mapping out a strategy to be myself is not being myself. It is only when I begin to let go of trying hard to be myself that I can begin to embrace my actual self. ~ Steve Weins […]

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