Be Who You Are, Not Who You Wish You Were

Photo thanks to WeHeartIt

First off: a caveat. I don’t mean to suggest that there’s something wrong with having aspirations for yourself. Dreams, hopes, future plans, blueprints of your mansion in the Canary Islands – whatever. It’s a beautiful thing to be inspired by life, to be looking forward to things, to wish something for yourself that you don’t currently possess.

There’s also nothing wrong with adjusting your current behaviours in the hopes of becoming a better you, to say no to activities you might enjoy but know are unproductive (like countless hours of watching TV, for example!) or make yourself do the hard work that will get you where you need to be.

The real problem arises wherever we attempt to mold ourselves into somebody else.  When our plans for ourselves don’t match up with our true values, personalities or skills. When we’re operating under a script for our “ideal” self that just doesn’t jibe with who we really are or what truly makes us happy.

Where we get these useless scripts differs from person to person: perhaps they’re sourced from our perceived (or real) parental expectations, our jealousy of a friend, our information from the media of what constitutes beauty or achievement, or our lack of self-reflection. It’s useful to try and isolate the sources of your ineffective scripts, confront them, and keep them in mind as you move through your life. 

Case Study: Lies About Reading!

I’ll give you an example. Many people believe there’s only one way to read books. They may have a script about reading books which includes several rules. One very common idea is that classic novels are very important to read, and are a source of enjoyment & learning..

I can’t say exactly where people develop these scripts, but in my anecdotal experience, that’s a common rule. Obviously, it is complete bogus. Be who you are, not who you wish you were. If you have tried to read several of the “great” classic novels, and have enjoyed them – continue to do so. If you have tried, and disliked them – cease reading them for now, try again if you are later inspired to try again. And if you have no interest in trying them – follow that voice over to the type of books that you might really enjoy, and don’t beat yourself up about it. Who says you have to change your interests?
I once told my boyfriend, who had shelves in his apartment full of unread classic novels, that if reading wasn’t interesting him, maybe he just wasn’t reading the right things for him. He considered this, and started becoming open to the idea of reading books within his interests. Lo and behold, he’s now the one suggesting we stop by the bookstore, and devouring books in his spare time. The only difference is, he’s now buying business and motivation books, a subject he currently finds fascinating. He found a way outside of his defective script, and is now finding enjoyment in an activity he previously found tedious.

Recognizing Your Patterns and Scripts

It’s all about being who you really are. Doing the things you really like, not the things you wished you liked. And while there’s always room for self-improvement, you really can’t change yourself at your core. Of course, trial-and-error is very important, because how can you know if you like something if you’ve never given it a chance?

 But it’s even more important to always keep in mind your scripts: both the defective ones acquired from your environment, and the perfect ones that are rooted in your true values and passions. There’s nothing wrong with saying: “I think running is a healthful activity that makes me feel good, and even though I sort of HATE it right now, I want to do it for myself, because I believe it will ultimately make me happy”. But there is something wrong with saying: “I’m so jealous of all the runners I see on the street, they’re so much more in control of their lives than I am, I need to run more so I can look like/act like/be like them”. First of all, your motivation ain’t going to stick around indefinitely if it’s for the wrong reasons, and secondly the activity won’t truly ever make you happy because you’re doing it for and because of other people. 

 The best thing you can do for yourself is to recognize your scripts: both the ones that aren’t you and the ones that are you. Notice them as much as possible. You might find yourself dismissing your childlike excitement to do a word search or dress in bright colours because of a defective script that says “that’s not who you’re supposed to be! Be more A, B and C!” But you need to hold on tight to the excitement, and realize that it’s your internal script calling out for attention. It’s telling you something important: what you really enjoy. What you love to do. What you would do if there weren’t any rules or expectations. What you should be doing.

 As you move through this week, making choices about how to spend your time and how to tackle activities, try to take a step back and identify your scripts. See if you can catch your nagging brain, constantly informing you of the expectations you’ve picked up from others, the unrealistic notion of the person you “wish you were”, who you “should be”. And try and find the little moments of clarity or excitement about activities you truly enjoy. Try to dismiss the first voice and amplify the second. Do less of what the first voice recommends, and more of the second.

 It doesn’t make us happy to try and fit a mold made for somebody else. We are happiest when we accept who we are, and do what makes sense for our personalities and passions.

 What really truly makes you happy? Have you ever been surprised by what you really enjoy? Have you ever been embarrassed or ashamed by the activities that you find the most amusing? Where do your scripts come from, and which are the most powerful for you? Who is the person you wish you were, but most definitely aren’t?

If you’re interested, I’ve written about similar topics here and here.


My apologies for the week-long hiatus! I’d been doing so well with my twice-weekly posting this month that it pained me to take a break. Actually that’s not quite correct – I was already in pain, so I couldn’t write my posts! Let me tell you right now: run, don’t walk to your nearest flu shot clinic. That flu is downright nasty, and really knocks you out for the bulk of a week. And for me at least, fever doesn’t inspire creativity, so it’s counter-productive as well. 

Not to worry, it does pass through pretty quickly, and I feel great now. Great enough to come back to the blog, write some new words, and start drafting this month’s sexy hot newsletter and my NaNoWriMo novel. If you want to sign up for the newsletter, please do so here, and if you want to become my buddy on the NaNo website, my profile is right here!