Being yourself is unavoidable.
I remember an old saying that went something like – no matter where you go, there you are. People go to great lengths to start fresh. They change jobs, hobbies, neighborhoods, cities, states, countries, spouses, religions, political affiliations, and buy expensive toys. They perm, curl, straighten, extend, bob, color, lighten, darken, redden, highlight, frost, reduce, nip, tuck, lift, paint, pierce, and tattoo. Yet without real change on the inside, they find themselves to be the same collection of attitudes, prejudices, and opinions they were before – just with a different wardrobe and hairstyle.
They have a new spouse and a new address, but the same old type of friends and the same old type of financial and relational issues they had before. Everything has changed, yet nothing has changed because who they are at their core has not changed.
A person can put up a front for a while, but eventually their true self shows through. That is not to say that you cannot “fake it ’til you make it”. I believe that is a valid strategy. But it is only successful if you are at the same time in the process of genuinely changing.
Being yourself is impossible.
There was a movie call “Runaway Bride”. In it, the main character molded herself to fit whoever she was interested in at the time to the point where she all but lost who she was. While someone taking it to that extreme is uncommon, most of us do it to at least some degree.
Most of us have a desire to be accepted that drives us to, at least somewhat, modify our opinions, or entertainment preferences, or musical tastes, or even, sometimes, beliefs to fit in with our tribe, our peer group, or our romantic interest. So it is all but impossible to be absolutely our self around people whose opinion, for whatever reason, we care about. And yet …
Being yourself is necessary.
What good is it to have someone fall in love with a carefully crafted image that we strive so hard to project? Sooner or later who we are becomes apparent to whoever we spend significant time with.
We did a singles class a few years back about good and bad reasons to marry. Marrying out of any financial or emotional need is not a good reason. In our minds even marrying for companionship doesn’t quite qualify as a good reason to get married. Companionship can be had from friends or even pets. One of the best reasons we could find to get married is intimacy. Genuine emotional, physical, and sexual intimacy is what marriage is all about.
No Intimacy Without Honesty
The thing is, there is no intimacy without honesty. True intimacy comes from true knowledge and understanding of each other. Putting on a front will never lead to real intimacy – EVER. It cannot. And without true intimacy, marriage will not be fulfilling and probably will not last.
The key is being strong enough to realize that people’s opinion of you is not what is important. If someone does not value you for exactly who you are and you cannot value them for exactly who they are, what is the point of pursuing a relationship? By the time my wife and I finally met after our years of living single, we had both arrived at the place where we could honestly say, “love me or hate me – but do it based on who I really am!” It is very liberating to reach that point.
Now it is important to point out that we are not saying that you should not value constructive criticism. You should make sure that you are in fact becoming your best you, the you that God created you to be. In fact, everyone should have a few people of character in their life whose opinion they value. This keeps you on track and stops you from veering off too far into the weeds and total weirdness. But, if you have the approval of those carefully chosen mentors, it does not matter what anyone else thinks!
The bottom line is that being yourself is tricky. In a way it is unavoidable. In a sense it is impossible. And yet, for creating a deep and intimate relationship, it is a necessity.
So, to thrive as a single person and be attractive to the right kind of person, first, make sure you are the best you you can be. Then, in all situations, no matter what, no matter who is or is not around you, no matter who you think will be or will not be attracted to you, be you.
When do you find it easiest or hardest you to be yourself? Share your thoughts in the comment section.
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