Being Yourself

After being banished from his home town of Sinope; the famous Greek philosopher, Diogenes, found his way to Athens where he arrived with a slave named Manes who abandoned him shortly thereafter. The people of Athens mocked Diogenes for his ill luck, to which the Philosopher replied, “If Manes can live without Diogenes, why not Diogenes without Manes?”

True, Diogenes was a half mad social misfit who defaced the currency of his city, lived in a tub, urinated in public places, went around Athens with a lantern in broad daylight ‘in search of an honest man’ and completely disregarded authority but it is also true that Diogenes was his own man. A man who was true to his beliefs and above all a man who mocked relationships of extreme self-dependence.

It is said that Diogenes became so famous that Alexander the Great paid him a visit in Corinth, and after a short exchange Alexander supposedly declared, “If I were not Alexander, I would want to be Diogenes.”

Too many people nowadays feel lost in their lives, be they at school, work or even at social outings because they are constantly trying to become what they are not- and, perhaps, what they should not be. As a result they become obsessed about the lifestyles of others and almost always end up unhappy and stressed.

The hardest part of life is defining who you are and who you want to be and trying by all means to reach that goal. I’m not suggesting that people end relationships with partners and friends they disagree with, I’m not encouraging people to be uncouth, boorish or insensitive but if you see that you are always on the begging end of a relationship then it’s time you ended it and found people who appreciate you.

Far too often we fail to realise our full potential because we want the approval of other people, we are afraid that if we sincerely express ourselves we will lose friends and make enemies. In my opinion if being yourself is going to make you lose friends then do just that- whoever is offended by the real you is probably not someone you should have called friend in the first place.

There is no need to be the doormat in other people’s lives, to be the one always being trampled upon. Stand up for yourself and what you believe in because often the regret and consequences of ‘existing’– not ‘living’- are a much greater price to pay.

It is good and desirable to be friends with the powerful, to dine with the wise and laugh with the rich but it should not make us ‘chameleon people’ who are continuously changing in an attempt to feel at home in different settings. The man who is self assured, the person who knows who they are, is at home in all settings. Like Shakespeare said,

“This above all: to thine own self be true,
And it must follow, as the night the day,
Thou canst not then be false to any man.”

Be yourself, live your life according to your own values and aspirations. But do not ignore honest advice and criticism in the name of ‘being yourself’.

May the real you proudly stand up!

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