Monday Notes: Being Yourself

I was raised in a family with a lot of rules about how to function in socially acceptable ways. I grew up in the ghetto where I had to learn a whole different set of rules for safety. And I attended schools with routines that didn’t fit either of the first two situations. A lot of times, I sat quietly until I determined which set of rules I was supposed to apply. For decades, I learned not to be myself and for just as long I had to unlearn it by simply trusting that who I am in each moment is okay.

I know this to be true because being myself has served others well, even when I wasn’t aware. For example, my goddaughter visited me over ten years ago because she was going through personal problems that left her feeling less than worthy. She was suicidal. Instead of embracing her in a big bear hug, I asked her one simple question, are you fucking crazy?

img_5554There is more, but my point is I didn’t stop to wonder if I should use a cuss word, or try to figure out what type of language would comfort her best. I didn’t offer a hug because that’s not my thing. I was myself in that moment, and years later, she’s grateful for that conversation and more because she viewed them as helpful.

Likewise, a former student reached out to me a couple years ago.

“You saved my life,” he said.

His statement was bold. I was humbled. How could little old me have “saved someone’s life?” He recounted a time when he was traveling down a path of self-destruction. His mother had begged me to encourage him to apply to a university. Because I take everything I do seriously, especially educating people’s children, I did as she asked. I bugged the heck out of him about applying, and to get me off his back, he applied to one, Florida International. He was accepted and the rest is how he redirected his life.

In both of those situations, I didn’t think twice. Actually, I didn’t even think once. I just acted according to my personality and beliefs at the time. I’ve since grown to believe that’s what being yourself is all about.

img_5553If you have to stop and ponder on how to perfect your words and actions for the person or the moment, then perhaps those people and experiences are not aligned with who you are in the first place. Because I’ll tell you what, being yourself will never require you to change parts about you to accommodate others.

Let me know what you think. Have you struggled to be yourself? Do you think it’s possible to be yourself 100% of the time? Do you change who you are to fit the setting?


77 thoughts on “Monday Notes: Being Yourself

  1. Kathy, wow! What a wonder to hear the words – “You saved my life,”. What a gift you’ve given and all by being yourself. We all grow up conditioned to a certain extent but hopefully free to be oneself – however one will always change a bit in certain environments. That’s to be expected as long and it’s important one doesn’t give up on the core self and that person reigns true and strong.

    Liked by 1 person

  2. O my, Katherin…I again can resonate with this.
    You know those word games, where someone says a word and you have to response immediately, without thinking? I think, when your heart is in the right place, advice works the same. I have a few friends who live with chronic depression and I made them promise to say ‘farewell’, if they plan to end there life for real. No further explanation necessary. Who am I to judge, it wouldn’t be my choice, but I do understand why someone could feel, there is no reason to keep going. The ‘farewell’, so I know I don’t have to expect any communication. So far…it made communication possible. Instead of saying farewell to me, they say they are thinking about it and to me, that is a way of asking indirectly for help. Is it me, they are still alive? Not sure, but I do agree with you…hugging them, won’t help either. I hug them each time, they make a step forward in turning their life for the better.
    As to, daring to be myself in any circumstance…still struggling with that sometimes. Partly, because I want to be polite, don’t hurt another soul without good reason (staying true to myself), partly, because when I do react on impulse…well, I can be a bit too harsh, especially if, to me, something unjust happened. Either to me, my family or even the world. That Mimosa Pudica thing..or maybe it is my sign (Gemini), lol.


  3. As always your beautiful posts are food for thought and fountain of words, dear doctor Garland.
    I wanted to use the excuse of not knowing who I am based star sign “complexity”, as I am Gemini too :), but having been mentioned before in the comments, I have decided to change the approach.
    I have been raised like you under strict set of rules of being always Polite and kind and helpful. But in life’s whirlpools I have found myself facing individuals who for sure keep hidden a portrait of themselves that changes along with their wrong-doings. What can I do? Be kind and helpful?
    My greatest naivete is to think that kindness and honesty do conquer all. On first sight I thought I should get rid of this “baggage” and “speak their language” and return favors.
    On second, I decided to remain myself and do my job and have a rule of giving 3 chances of “redemption” and after that, Nothing…
    Nevertheless, Marie is right, we are different people under different circumstances.
    And nevertheless, as a teacher I am supposed to do better and make things better.

    Liked by 2 people

    1. Thank you Iulia! I seem to have attracted many Geminis in the blogging world 😉 I also work in 3s. For some reason, that number seems to be the number when I pay attention. If I hear a message three times, then I listen more intently. I respect you and Marie’s point of view about this, and I suppose I should re-phrase, I’ve DECIDED not to be a different person under different circumstances. It’s been much more pleasant for me to simply be who I am in each circumstance. That way, I’m also attracting who and what I want in these moments. Thanks again for the kind words within your response ❤

      Liked by 2 people

  4. Hey Kathy!
    I’ve had uneven experiences being myself. Many times in life people have commented that I’m “different,” and what I heard them saying is “and we’re not sure we like it!” (Please don’t ask me why I chose the negative interpretation rather than the positive one – I don’t have enough time to bog down your comment section with theories about that…😜) But anyway, unlearning anxiousness about being me, and enjoying being myself is something I’m still learning.

    I don’t change WHO I AM to fit settings, but I know that my most uproarious laughter doesn’t belong every place I go, and I’m not trying to flavor my conversation with profanity around my 100-year old grandmother – know what I mean?

    Liked by 1 person

    1. lol – I didn’t see it as a negative interpretation. People have said similar things to me, and I’ve interpreted it the same way, mainly because of HOW they say it. It doesn’t sound pleasant at all. Leslie, I really like how you’ve described these: “uneven experiences,” “unlearning anxiousness,” I understand. You’ve mentioning your “uproarious laughter” reminds me of something that recently happened. I’ll try and make it brief. I met a group at Ruth’s Chris, which as you may know is pretty upscale. A friend of a friend had what I called a “tv laugh.” It was very loud and distinct. Every time she laughed, I felt like turning around to say like, “Are you for real with this laugh?” lol but I didn’t because I realized it was just how she laughed. It didn’t seem to fit an upscale steakhouse, but it was hers. I suppose she’d learned to embrace it. I also know your 100-year old grandmother example is an example, but I also have a 92-year old grannie, who knows full well that I might just drop a cuss word or two in our conversation depending on what story I’m re-telling.

      I say all of this to say, I know that this is something many of us find ourselves working on. Thanks for adding to this conversation Leslie. I appreciate it.

      Liked by 1 person

  5. Good post! I think we always a struggle to be ourselves and get better at it as we grow older.

    It is possible to be your self 100 percent of the time but its hard, you become a Buddha type of person. Like the saying goes, it’s as narrow as a razor’s edge and just as a hard.

    I do change to suit the moment but I hope it’s the right measure. I don’t want to sell myself short but sometimes you have to see the greater good… jc 🙂

    Liked by 1 person

      1. Well, I think it starts when we are born and all the things we are thrown into. Right away we learn to walk, talk, be a part of a family… father, mother, sister, brother and don’t forget the dog. Then throw in school, from kindergarden to university. And what about religion. Marriage, kids jobs… friends and a social life.

        Then sooner or later, kids move out and people die and suddenly we are not needed as much, we have more time for us… and the time comes to ask… what about me!

        Liked by 1 person

  6. I am 100% myself always, but was not always true to myself and values (which is to say that I always spoke and acted in very me ways but I would do a lot of people pleasing–so much so that I didn’t even know I was doing it). Now, I actually do pause before speaking/thinking 98.7% of the time (I love made up statistics), and I think that’s made me *more* myself than ever because I’m checking in with my values, etc. before acting.

    Liked by 3 people

    1. Aha! That’s a good distinction Akilah. I think that’s where the conversation divides sometimes. We don’t always have a baseline for what it means to be oneself. I like that definition: “speaking and acting in ‘very me ways'” is what I believe makes you yourself. Also hadn’t thought about people pleasing as a way to NOT be oneself, but I can see how it would be.


  7. Your writing on this topic is profound, Kathy. I have no doubt that you’ve changed the direction of many lives – that is something I can see you take pride in.
    I think learning to express ourselves (without accommodating others) is a lifelong process. I can see in my own life that it has been something that I continue to learn and perfect. Sometimes, i fall behind – but there’s always a way for me to reset and catch myself if I fall back into old habits. I was a master of suppressing my feelings since childhood, so it has been huge for me to improve in this area.
    Thank you for touching me with this topic. I really enjoy reading your blog!

    Liked by 3 people

    1. Thanks Judy! Unknowingly, I have and I suppose I am proud of that because in the moment, I’ve not stopped to think, “hmmm how can I change this person’s life,” necessarily lol so when someone comes back and reminds me of something I said ten years ago, that’s awesome! I’m literally AWE struck.

      Anywho, I suffered (this is the best word I can come up with now) from the same expression suppression. I came from an older family where children were seen and not heard, and I was the only child in many situations, so it was as if I was just there. I say all of this to say, I understand. I had to learn to be comfortable to express myself in all situations too. Glad to be able to relate to you in that way and THANK YOU so much for all of your kindness.

      Liked by 1 person

  8. Hey Katherin 😂. Great post. I love that you are you in whatever situation. I aspire to that and take the feeling of not being able to be me as being a social/relationship litmus test. Situations where I feel I can’t be my true self are usually where I am maintaining a friendship or relationship past its used by date or in need of resolving shit that has been left unsaid. Mainly it is with my parents that I can’t truly be me…those boxes we are pigeon holed in within a nuclear (bomb) family are so deep and hard to climb out of. We’ve talked about this same topic in a few of your posts and I still believe that being authentic in all scenarios is more about being consistent in values and ones boundaries than necessarily being the same in language use or type of conversation…I think it is only human to vary communication to the audience but also depending on the chemistry between yourself and the other.

    Liked by 1 person

    1. lol – you know how to make me laugh. Anywho, yes to “resolving shit that has been left unsaid,” I agree. And most of the time it’s all that family stuff that’s residing somewhere in our hearts and minds. lol at “nuclear bomb” family…sounds like the title of a good book.

      I also agree that being yourself/authentic has more to do with what you said here, in terms of consistency in values/boundaries, AND what I’ve realized is that for someone like me for whom expression and conversation is important, if I can’t say something to someone without overthinking it a million and one times first, then I’m probably not being myself in the situation.

      I’ve learned through these series of blogging convos that’s not true for everyone.

      Liked by 1 person

  9. Ah.. this is great. I think we all have at least two people inside of us. It may be dangerous to be 100% yourself 100% of the time, so I just try to be honest- an honest reflection of the company I’d like to attract and keep.


    1. I agree Kelley about it being dangerous, and I think we’ve made it dangerous to be ourselves. Isn’t that a crazy thought? Love that last part! To me, that’s the benefit of being yourself, then you are consciously attracting people and experiences that are in alignment 😉

      Liked by 1 person

  10. Amazing, I think somewhere I wrote a post about being oneself, knowing yourself. Know who you are! I was engaged to a guy who I really didn’t know who He was. He comes to mind whenever I meet someone who don’t appear authentic or I am wondering about my own authenticity. I never want to put on a facade that I have to change to cater to others I want to be me and only me. Thank you for sharing. Charlene –

    Liked by 1 person

    1. Yes, that’s how it used to feel sometimes, as if I was putting on a facade to make “them” happy with who I am. I have a quote that I use, “I’m not going to stop being me, so you can feel comfortable being you.” I refuse. Thanks for reading and commenting Charlene!


  11. Love it and your examples are on point (love the screenshot questions yeess.) 2018 has been quiet for me so far but I gotta comment on this. Hope this isn’t too long:

    I can be very kind and considerate but also very blunt and straightforward. I am either all the way one thing or nothing at all. Growing up, I was branded as the mean twin which caused an internal struggle somewhere between being honest and not wanting to hurt people’s feelings because I have a soft heart and I always strive to treat others how I want to be treated.

    At the close of last year though, I started this personal self-love journey. (the result of a book I’m writing) where I would be honest about what I will and won’t accept not because I’m a mean person but because I love myself. So when someone commented on one of my Facebook posts, calling me by a term I no longer wish to be called by, I called her on it in the open. As respectful as I knew how, I politely asked her not to call me that and gave her alternatives to call me (like by my nickname, EC). Afterward, I admit, I felt bad. I hoped I hadn’t hurt her feelings. I was torn. I was in the battle. Why didn’t I just privately message her?

    After thinking about it (and praying about it) I realized that the real me didn’t want to privately message her. The real me wanted it out in the open so other sisters could see it. The real me wanted others to see the example so they know not to call me that either. I wasn’t being mean, I was taking a stand. I was being real. This was the real me. After this realization, I was OK with my decision. I also noticed other sisters calling me sis or EC who had previously used the other term.

    It sounds like a simple thing but it was a very revolutionary move for me personally because it was me telling myself that I love myself enough not to allow anyone to treat me any less than I would treat myself. I realized that something as simple as allowing people to call you something that makes you uncomfortable is a form of self-hate. You would rather be uncomfortable than speak up. Another pet peeve of mine is people mentioning me like I am not there even though I am. When people do this (speak of me in third person “EC…”) and I’m right there, I am going to say something because to me that’s disrespectful. I’m right here.

    I also know now that those who truly know me would never need an explanation of my intentions.

    Liked by 2 people

    1. Girl, don’t let me get on how we label one another and how traumatic that can be. As you’ve shown, one label can cause a lifetime of self-doubt and stress, leading one to not be oneself.

      I’m glad you’ve given this example because there are so many ways that we are not true to ourselves. There are so many ways that we don’t speak up for ourselves, and it typically leads back to what you said…not wanting to seem mean or hurt someone’s feelings. But what about your feelings? What about how you’re seething inside in order to make them feel comfortable. Sheesh! I’m so glad you learned to speak up. I agree that it seems small, but it can be so liberating.

      By the way…no comment is too long on this blog lol

      Liked by 1 person

  12. Trying to be someone I wasn’t was just hurting myself as I was living according to what people said or the society. Being myself in every situation has help me find my true values. You are right to say, being yourself will not please everyone but being yourself is the best way to be You. I like this post.

    Liked by 4 people

    1. It’s interesting you should say this Rosaliene because I said to Kathy that I didn’t think I knew myself (well of course I know myself at my core), but I felt because I wasn’t a strong, confident, self-assured type of person, I felt I didn’t really know myself. I equated knowing oneself with those attributes. On reading what you’ve said I’ve had a Damascene moment: I do have a better idea of who I am because to be aware of one’s weaknesses/failings and strengths makes you who you are. And I realise that although I am not the most self-assured person in the world, as I’ve grown older I am more accepting of what I deem to be my w/f/s – so thanks for that!:) Great comment!

      Liked by 1 person

    2. Thank you for this Rosaliene. I was thinking of writing something about how to actually be yourself because I know I talk about just doing it a lot. I think this is an important part of it…ACCEPTANCE of all things about you: “good” and “bad.”

      Liked by 1 person

  13. back in my teen years, i ‘acted’ the way i thought would make people more comfortable, or like me more. now-a-days, i mostly am myself, except when i’m around people that get uncomfortable dealing with someone who’s blind, then that teenager in me surfaces, and i act in a way that will put this person at ease.

    Liked by 3 people

    1. Thank you for sharing this. You’ve made a point that I think is important. A lot of times we’re taught to “put people at ease,” instead of being our natural selves. I’ve often wondered whose job is it for the other person to feel comfortable? Mine or theirs. It sounds harsh to some, but I’ve decided it’s our own jobs to make our own selves feel comfortable, not someone else’s.

      Also, it’s interesting how we slip back into a role once we’re triggered. I’ve done it too, specifically with family.

      Liked by 1 person

  14. Uh-oh…you called me Katherin, instead of Kathy lol (was my first thought).

    I agree that we are sometimes different versions of ourselves. The reason I say sometimes is that I think we’re always the same at the core. We might express ourselves differently, though. For example, I’ve always been pretty direct and blunt, no matter the situation. It might come out different because I’m at work, as opposed to with a friend, but you’ll get the same direct Kathy either way.

    I disagree that we can’t know ourselves. I wholeheartedly believe that if we spend more time with ourselves (in peace and quiet), or in some type of reflective mode, then we can get to know ourselves, the same way we get to know other people with whom we choose to be in relationship with.

    Your example of what you might’ve needed when you were faced with suicidal thoughts is really what I’m saying here. I think if we all function as ourselves then we’ll meet with people who are aligned with whoever that is. I think my goddaughter came to me because she knew I’d say something to snap her out of it because she did (and still) does know me and what to expect. It’s the same reason she and others DON’T come to me sometimes. Because sometimes you need other types of guidance, not an in-your-face reflective question.

    No apologies necessary Marie! You know I love engaging with you and others. I’m happy to be thinking right alongside you 😉

    Liked by 2 people

    1. Yes I too was ‘surprised’ about calling you Katherin instead of Kathy. lol I don’t even know myself well enough to know why I did that. Any ideas, Kathy? lol
      I hear what you say about ‘knowing yourself’ – I still don’t feel as if I really do though – I know I wrestle with myself over this – perhaps I do really, but refuse to acknowledge it …
      Suicidal thoughts – didn’t consult anyone – just did it (but obviously survived) so perhaps not a very good example for this talking point.
      You make some really good points though and I’m glad we don’t always agree – it’s refreshing to get another point of view and it sounds like you know yourself very well. 🙂

      Liked by 2 people

      1. LOL! I don’t feel like I’m in trouble this time lol

        It has! My father’s death was a huge part of it and the realization that I had been pretty self destructive as a result of our dysfunctional relationship. Opened my eyes quite a bit. I’ll have to look for what I wrote about a relationship meditation I did…was literally life changing.

        Liked by 1 person

  15. There was a time that I would always pull out the social rulebook and try to do the most socially acceptable thing regarding the situation I was in. That didn’t work too well.
    That shifted to being a bit more impulsive and acting on my own instincts. Vast improvement, and I became quite popular in school using the new scheme.
    But the one I use now is simply Oneness with The Most High. I meditate / pray into everything. Many times I have the right instinct, but only the Infinite knows the full spectrum of background and emotion that goes into a specific circumstance.
    Sometimes I’m surprised, even shocked, by the answers I get back from Source, but I cannot say that small Voice inside has ever led me astray. It just knows, … and when I listen, I know too, and get it right, even if at the moment, I cannot comprehend where it is leading.

    Liked by 2 people

      1. Yes. You’ve pretty much summarized it. 😉 I find following the 6th sense, as you have done, quite powerful, and beyond this, the 7th, 8th, …etc. powerful enough to change the fabric of reality.

        Liked by 1 person

  16. It’s always ok to be yourself Katherin. But I think people are always different versions of themselves. I think this seemingly simple post is quite a complex one actually. Who actually really knows who they are – I certainly don’t – and I’ve known myself for more than half a century. When I tried to commit suicide aged 11, the last thing I think I would’ve wanted someone to say to me is: “Are you fucking crazy?” And at the same time, I’m not sure a ‘hug’ would’ve helped either. Your post has certainly made me think about who I really am – and at the moment, I’m still not really sure, but I do tend to get by despite this.
    It’s interesting what you say about having to be different people in different situations whilst growing up according to what you thought was expected of you and to some extent I was faced with the same situation. Although I came from a family where one parent took swearing (accompanied by violence) to an art-form, I never swore (until recently), because it scared the hell out of me and to a great extent I was a very fearful person – swearing had me quivering with fear. I think with age and experience you begin to sort out in your mind what the best version of yourself is and try to stick that because it’s the place where you feel most comfortable.
    So sorry for this long reply, but your post really got me thinking and thank you for sharing.

    Liked by 3 people

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