Have you ever heard the quote, “don’t be afraid of being different, be afraid of being the same as everyone else”? Although the origins of this quote are a mystery, it has been repeated many times as a call to self-acceptance and self-celebration. In recent years, it has inspired many people on the Internet to think for themselves. To not give in to social pressures. And, to not worry about what others might think of them. Instead, it’s a stark reminder, to all of us, that being different is about being yourself. Even if being yourself means you have to be tough, firm, rigid, or stout. Or whether you have to be sensitive, vulnerable, emotional, or conscious. Having the courage to be yourself every day says something about you.
But, why is being yourself so important? And why should you “be afraid” of being just like everyone else? Aside from hinting at the many benefits of originality and uniqueness, this quote stresses the fact that being yourself can help you become a better You.
If you’re content to be the same as everyone else, you will never strive for anything extraordinary.
There’s a lot of ‘average’ people out there. Individuals who are complacent about their lives and this type of complacency is definitely something to fear. To break out of the herd, however, you need to be different. You need to be yourself.
Do You Have to Hate Yourself to Improve Yourself?
In her article “Self-Improvement vs. Self-Acceptance: Which is Right?” Pick the Brain contributor Ali Luke identifies two trends in the field of personal development. Two trends which seem completely contradictory fighting it out for supremacy.
- Trend 1: One school of thought stresses bettering yourself. For instance, “keep striving for improvement,” “make more money,” “lose weight,” and “keep doing more.”
- Trend 2: The other school of thought stresses being yourself. For instance “accept yourself just as you are,” “don’t look to money for happiness,” “love your body,” and “do what you want.”
In the eyes of many, the problem with the first school of thought lies in its lack of acceptance. Why do you need to make more money or lose more weight? Well, you must hate yourself the way you are! Right? And, if you adhere to the second school of thought, won’t people accuse you of being lazy? After all, who can’t stand a bit of personal improvement?
Being Yourself — The First Step to Self-Improvement
Merriam-Webster defines “Improvement” as “the act or process of making something better.” In essence meaning, “the quality of being better than before,” and “an addition or change that makes something better or more valuable.” But there’s something revealing about the definition. Can you see it? Look closely at that definition. Nowhere does it state that you must start from a place of absolute squalor and disrepair? The keyword in the definition of improvement isn’t “Good” its “Better.”
In other words, you don’t have to despise yourself to seek self-improvement. You simply have to possess a desire to become better. The point is, you can accept yourself as the good and decent person that you are while still striving to improve in a million different ways.
From the Experts
Medication expert and trained psychotherapist Kay Goldstein takes this notion a step further in her Huffington Post article “To Better Yourself, First Be Yourself.” Expounding on the topic of New Year’s resolutions, she points out the dangers inherent in improving ourselves at the expense of really being ourselves. “What if we started out believing we are acceptable and can best contribute to society first by being our true self?” she asks. What if you started with accepting yourself? Would that, then, lead to you being yourself?
In his article “Why It Is Important To Improve Yourself,” writer and body language expert Robert Phipps agrees. Robert states that:
“Accepting your true self is the first step to being yourself.”
The quest to be yourself or to “find yourself” may sound trivial or perhaps even silly to some, but how can you make yourself better if you have no idea who you are? That’s like trying to renovate a house when you can’t even find it on the map!
See also: How to Be Yourself in a World that is Trying to Change You.
A Good Kind of Self-Absorption
Although some people may consider any embrace of the self as an act of self-absorption and selfishness, it is also the first step toward developing our truest best selves. It’s only by striving for this ideal can we truly help others as well as ourselves. Today, the world faces many challenges. If you want to make a difference in this world, it must first start with what goes on within you. You must come from a place of inner strength and confidence. Both of which are virtually impossible to acquire if you don’t have the courage to be true to who you are.