Have you ever gotten the advice to “just be yourself”? It’s probably one of the most common bits of advice given, particularly when speaking with someone who is nervous about doing something new. And while ‘just be yourself’ sounds great, is it really good advice? Do we even know what being our self means in a moment that we’ve not experienced before?
This advice is often given when we are nervous and stepping outside of our comfort zone. The thing is when I am trying something new I don’t know who I am in that situation. I’m cutting Fresh Tracks. I’ve not grown into it yet to know who I am.
My experience is that the process of discovering who I am, particularly when doing something I haven’t done before, takes me jumping in, feeling my way around, and THEN becoming clear and confident about who I am. I don’t know who I am before experiencing this situation because I haven’t experienced it before. What if I am a mess – do I really want to just be myself in this situation?
A better piece of advice is to ‘be my best’. I may be a mess, but in my best moments I can pull myself together to give it my all.
An example I’ll share is when I started producing this newsletter 15 years ago. It was called The Small Business Buzz back then and the first several months it was terrible. It took time for me to discover my voice, narrow down what I had to say and why it was important, and share my message in a confident and powerful way.
I couldn’t be myself because I wasn’t sure who that was. I started writing and producing by taking action and doing the best I could based on what I knew to do. During the stumbling around process I discovered who I am as a writer and a publisher. I didn’t know ahead of time because I had no sense of self about it.
Letting go of who you aren’t to discover who you are
As a Fresh Tracker learning how to be yourself is part of the journey in creating Fresh Tracks. Creating those Fresh Tracks means living and being MORE of who you are right now. For most of us this is a process of uncovering who we aren’t in order to be more of who we are. Stepping into new and unknown territories is part of how we discover who we are in the first place.
Is there a difference between being myself, meaning who I am right now, and being who I choose to be? Perhaps who I choose to be is a stronger, more confidence person? Or I may try different ways of being me and see what is most comfortable and stick with that.
Don’t take the advice “just be yourself”. You can choose who you are in each moment and be authentic at the same time. Instead, I encourage you to “be your best self”.