“Just be yourself.”
It’s one of those phrases that’s sorta true but irksomely trite. “Just be yourself.” How is that helpful? What does it even mean?
What I want to know is this: What if we stopped being ourselves? Who could we become?
I’m not suggesting that you “Stand out from the crowd!” or “Swim against the current!” or even that you “Be unique–like a snowflake!” Those sappy admonitions are equally cliche. Trying to stand out from the pack and be different from everyone else is stressful and causes you to compare yourself to others.
But being unique from yourself? That’s doable and rewarding. And a whole lot of fun.
Here are 7 ways to stop being yourself:
1. Eat something you don’t like
Mushrooms and onions were at the top of my “yuck” list when I was little. The only way a dish with onions could get worse was if there were mushrooms in it, too. I vowed to loathe them all my life (and promised myself I would not eat them at the feast in Heaven). Then Eric showed me new varieties and new ways to cook them. I like them now. So much so that when Eric asks if he can put mushrooms or onions in a dish, I say “Add ’em both. Add ’em both!”
2. Explore a new genre of book or T.V. show
I watched Fullmetal Alchemist, an anime T.V. series based off of a manga. Yeah. That’s about as different from Little Women as you can get! I do still read and watch Little Women-type stuff, but I liked Fullmetal better than Downton Abbey!
3. Fall in love with the least likely place on your list
A beach in Costa Rica might’ve been on my list, but the capital city, San Jose, was not. San Jose is dirty, beat up, and smelly. I remember it etched with corroded sidewalks, bus exhaust and crowded streets downtown, long walks in the hot sun or pouring rain to get anywhere, graffiti on the playground, candy wrappers and soiled toilet paper in the alleys.
Yet I wish like anything that I could go back!
4. Create differently
I used to paint and draw as literally as I could muster. I would stare down my subject (physically or in my mind) and try to recreate it perfectly on the page. Things have changed. The last time I painted, it was just colours…bars and dots. It was fun, low-key, and refreshing. And now when I take notes or jot down a recipe, I don’t start with a fresh sheet of paper and I don’t begin on the left side of the paper and work my way to the right. I write along the sides, in and out of circles and boxes, wherever the thoughts flow!
5. Use your non-dominant hand
I grew up right-handed for most things, but I’ve been eating with my left hand since high school. I still want to develop my left-handed writing–it’s illegible!
6. Wear a different colour
I bought an orange sweater and fell in love with it! I’m well versed in grey, blue, brown, and pink, but orange was never “me.” Then I found out I was an autumn and figured I’d better give orange a try. Orange, I misunderstood you. It won’t happen again!
7. Do something you’re not good at
I’m not good at math or “computer stuff.” But when I was asked to teach junior high math I was pleasantly surprised by how much I enjoyed and learned the subject! I’ve also been fascinated by the technical side of being an online worker. I love learning about HTML and the behind-the-scenes of websites and blogs.
Your turn: What can you do this week, or this year, that’s not “you”?
Don’t be yourself. It’s the new way of finding out who you are(: