…Remember There Is No One Else on Earth like You..
E.E. Cummings once said, “To be nobody but yourself in a world which is doing its best, night and day, to make you everybody else means to fight the hardest battle which any human being can fight; and never stop fighting”.
The problem of feeling discontent in being yourself is one of the oldest problems in history. Unwillingness to be oneself has been and is the cause for a lot of drama in life and most mind-related illnesses and complexes. We are always looking at the other person – someone who we think is successful in a particular field – and we try to be that person. We go to great lengths to study that person’s behaviour. All this, unfortunately, can never make us more than a cheap replica. And the world does not value a fake, it respects an original.
When I was in my teens, I was one of the three tall girls in my class. Rather than celebrate this fact about myself, I always felt like an outlier and wished I was shorter so that I could fit in. I was also very academically focused while the most popular girls (by my standard) were those that dressed prettily and talked about where they wanted to hang out and with whom. Sure, I had my own friend circle but there was that feeling of something lacking in the corner of my mind. There was always the feeling that I was not beautiful enough. I would look at the popular crowd and subconsciously wish I were more like them. My teachers loved me for my focus and all my qualities, but that was not enough. So often we look for what we don’t have, what we think we are not, and aspire to be that. in fact, it is always the case that we are a lot more special than what we aspire to be. We just don’t take time to know our self and celebrate what we have, but spend all our time admiring others.
This craving to be something we are not is more prominent in certain professions, such as show business and politics. But it is everywhere. Famous film and stage directors say their greatest headache with aspiring young actors is to persuade them to be themselves. As Oscar Wilde put it, “Most people are other people. Their thoughts are someone else’s opinions, their lives a mimicry, their passions a quotation.”
Even in the business world, which is closer to home for me personally, I have learnt that it is hard to get to the top by being a parrot. Getting to the top comes with winning the trust of the people you work with, with winning respect, and building your credibility. And it’s hard, if not impossible, to build credibility or win the respect of teams by trying to be someone else. On the contrary, that is the quickest way to lose any little chance you might have had.
This need to be someone else starts early, and is so deep that it is evident in many of our actions. In the case of the business world, starts right at the time of a job interview. Having interviewed a few people over the years, I know first-hand that their biggest downfall is not being themselves. For me personally, this is always the biggest let-down. Instead of being candid, interviewees often feel compelled to give you rehearsed answers that they think you want to hear. But no one wants a fake! And the most unfortunate thing of all is that you can tell these people are smart individuals who simply are not convinced of their own potential.
The renowned thinker William James once said that the average man develops only ten per cent of his latent mental abilities. He wrote: “Compared to what we ought to be we are only half awake. We are making use of only a small part of our physical and mental resources. Stating the thing broadly, the human individual thus lives far within his limits. He possesses powers of various sorts which he habitually fails to use.”
The truth is, you and I have such abilities, so why waste even a second worrying that we are not like other people. My own awkwardness from my teen years continued unchecked as I grew older – in my mind, there was always something wrong with me. Then a close friend said: “But you are who you are. Why would you want to be someone else, even if you could? Be yourself. Besides, I believe you have been carved out for something bigger”.
Be yourself and you could do something bigger– something about that felt enormously liberating. Suddenly, I felt lighter and de-stressed. I realized that I really could accomplish a lot more by being myself because I actually have access to myself – I can dig deeper and summon up my own inner resources that make me who I am. As hard as I try to be someone else, I don’t have access to the resources that make that person who he/she is because they reside within him/her, not within me!
Each of us is something new in this world. Never before, since the beginning of time, has there ever been anybody exactly like you; and never again throughout all the ages to come will there ever be anybody exactly like you again.
We have within us the knowledge of who we are – our strengths, our weaknesses. Practicing Rajayoga over the last few years has helped me to unlock that knowledge about myself, and empowers me to live up to my potential. I know what I can and can’t do, what to build on and what to improve. I am what I am with all my specialties, flaws and limitations. These are what make me who I am. Clearly, it seems most fruitful to try to be the best that I can be. When the musicians Berlin and Gershwin first met, Berlin was famous but Gershwin was a struggling young composer working for thirty-five dollars a week in Tin Pan Alley. Berlin, impressed by Gershwin’s ability, offered Gershwin a job as his musical secretary at almost three times the salary he was then getting. “But don’t take the job,” Berlin advised. “If you do, you may develop into a second-rate Berlin. But if you insist on being yourself, someday you’ll become a first-rate Gershwin.” Gershwin heeded that warning and slowly transformed himself into one of the significant American composers of his generation.
We are each something unique in this world. Cherish and celebrate it. Let me not become accustomed to disguising myself so much to others that in the end I become disguised to myself.
About the Author
Sarika is a resident of the global retreat centre and has been a student of Rajayoga since the last three years. She works as a Product Marketing Manager for a multinational software corporation and enjoys writing.