“Eat more servings of vegetables each day.” “Put your phone away before bedtime to get a better night’s sleep.”
“Do some homework on the weekends to get a jump start on the week.”
Sometimes others tell us (or we tell ourselves) the simplest ideas to improve our wellbeing; and while we know it’s sound advice, it can feel easier said than done! Sometimes the simplest things (like adding more veggies in to your day) can feel overwhelming or as if you have a giant question mark over your head. What can feel even more difficult than throwing some veggies in your backpack, though, is this simple piece of advice:
It’s only two words. But what does it really mean? How do you navigate who you are all while keeping up with the other complexities of teen and young adult years? As a full-fledged adult (read: fakin’ it til I’m makin’ it!), allow me to let you in on the secret to success in always knowing exactly who you are:
There isn’t one.
And that’s okay! It’s part of life. Growing in your own confidence is something you can be mindful of on your own time and pace. So, while there’s no secret formula for me to share, I can offer you 3 paths to being yourself-and why it's seriously the BEST:
- Challenge the Norms: Being Unique is Exciting
Imagine a puzzle with just one piece. Imagine going to a buffet and they only had one thing! How boring does that sound? (Unless the buffet is all tacos, then sign me up) All of these unique pieces fit together to create something wonderful, just like how the different aspects of your personality are what make you YOU. When you allow yourself to unapologetically be yourself, you can inspire others around you to do the same. Who wants a world full of cookie cutter people roaming the world dressing, acting, and looking the same as each other?
This same idea goes with gender roles/gender norms. Gender roles are how society expects males and females to behave. Think of two imaginary boxes, one labeled Masculine and one labeled Feminine. In the masculine box, you may find words like strong or leader or athlete. In the feminine box, you might see nurturing or emotional or a good cook. Now, society and the media tell us to stay in our box based on the gender we were born with. But do you know what the best thing about the imaginary boxes is? The fact that they’re imaginary. Pick whatever traits you want from any side you want. The box isn’t real. It’s about who you truly are, and hopefully you’ll have a partner who appreciates all the wonderful traits you have, as well.
2. Be Confident: Loving Yourself Helps Your Relationships
When we feel like we can be ourselves, we tend to have healthier relationships with those around us. We are better partners, daughters, sons, friends, the list goes on! Learning how to balance confidence with humility enables us to feel secure, and that translates to having a strong sense of trust in our relationships. Once you realize the constraints of social norms don't have to exist in your life, your partner is also able to be his or herself! Then you have two respectful, trusting, and accepting individuals in a partnership- sounds pretty good to me!
3. Be Proud: There’s Only One of You.
Literally. I don’t care if you’re Cole and Dylan Sprouse and look the exact same…there is just one you! How cool is that? That’s incredible. There are billions of people in the world…and the wonderful uniqueness that is YOU is filled with incredible thoughts, skills, ideas, and kind deeds just waiting to show themselves. Be proud of that. Be proud of your friends. Be proud of your partner.
So there you have it…being yourself is the best. No filter needed!