1. You are amazing and unique the way you were created.
Just think about it. You were born against your own will. You were removed from your mum’s belly screaming, kicking and trying to crawl back in, forced to scream so you could start breathing and your heart could adjust to the new, alien environment; the soul you were given was not of your choice, and the body you were put into was also out of your control. You were brought up in your family, again you had nothing to say about this and only at some point in your life, hopefully, you would stop to ask yourself: who I am and why am I the way I am? Why not different? As a result of mass media and social indoctrination we start asking ourselves also why am I such, and not a different person, why do I look the way I do and why my character is what it is (most of the time, sadly, we are disappointed with ourselves). We have an expectation of what we are supposed to be, how we are supposed to behave and we strive for that perfection. There is nothing wrong with it, per se. It flips to the wrong side, when we stop appreciating who we are and try living someone else’s life. Remember, you couldn’t crawl back in, your life is what was given to you because no one else can live your life, enjoy your happiness, struggle your struggles and achieve what you are meant to achieve. That simply means that you are special, unique and amazing the way you are. Why would you change it?
2. Re-evaluate the credibility of people who want you to change.
I strongly believe that this is simply a fair question before attempting changing for other people. Don’t get me wrong, it’s good to listen to advice and, if beneficial, employ it, but also that advice can be a cover-up for detrimental and negative criticism, especially coming from people who either fear you, don’t understand you or feel inferior to you. One thing I should say here is: they will fear you, misunderstand you and feel inferior to you regardless of your conduct. It doesn’t and will not matter if you do what they tell you to – their feelings toward you won’t change with only one difference. Once you give in they will stop respecting you. My advice is, the moment you feel a rope tightening around your neck regardless of who this rope belongs to – run, if you want to live. People that love you will never try and restrict your chase for your dreams or further development. They will respect your free spirit, celebrate all things that are unique about you and the relationship they have with you.
Think of yourself as a box of cereal (I know it sounds strange, but give it a try). Think of yourself in terms of what you like: honey and nut, nesquick, regular cornflakes, granola or muesli; you buy them because you enjoy the taste, texture, the appearance. You’re probably not standing in the grocery shop aisle opening every single box to make sure that all ‘pieces’ are whole, not chipped, not broken and of equal colour. Number one, you would be escorted out of this shop assisted by security. Number two, you would be made to pay for the damages. Number three, you would have left the shop as you came in, without them. That’s how people often treat each other. They choose things they want or like about the person, what fits them, makes them feel safe, comfortable, unthreatened and unchallenged, and then, because they can’t throw away ‘other pieces’ about you they try to change them. In the end you become half the person you were at the beginning. I am not saying that there aren’t things that we need to work on, but not in the way in which we negate a significant part of our being only to ensure that people standing next to us are not shaking in their boots.
Regardless of what others want you to change about yourself, you need to accept yourself with all the pieces, the ‘whole’ ones and the ‘broken’ ones, or, in other words, those parts that do not follow the general pattern, but are unique in their combination and should be eaten along with the ‘whole’ pieces. After all, these ‘broken’ bits, pieces of dried honey, nuts, cinnamon and chocolate combined with milk make the most delicious finale to all breakfasts – milk is no longer milk, but a chocolate, honey or cinnamon nectar that you have actually waited for, while enjoying the ‘whole’ cereal bits.
3. Ask yourself a question: What exactly do I want to change about myself? There may not be much to change.
You may say that you are ‘too much of this’ and ‘not enough of that’. For example, you may think that you are too sensitive, too aggressive, too detached; basically think about everything that you have ever heard about yourself, the things you have ‘too much of’ and what you should become ‘less’. Then think of things you have been told and consequently believe you are ‘not enough of’, for example, you are not enough driven, not enough emotional, not enough friendly or else.
It took me the majority of my adult life to understand one thing, you may disagree with me of course, that there are no weaknesses or strengths. There are no ‘good’ and ‘bad’ things about us. If we think of ourselves as a ‘whole’ package, then when we say that we are too sensitive, then though we may not be entirely happy with how we react in certain situations, in some your level of sensitivity will be essential. Not less, not more. If you think you are aggressive then you are probably driven, you go for the kill. Instead of changing yourself, utilise that feature at work, career, by creating and supervising projects, being involved in charity work; people that don’t know how to enforce their objective will struggle more to be successful in these fields. If someone says that you are detached, you are probably an introvert, more of a creative type, not necessarily involving yourself with all that is happening around you. This means also that you will live longer than those that are overly involved with situations and other people’s lives. Less chance of a heart-attack. If you are believed not to be driven enough, then again that is a good thing, because you actually notice people around you, you interact with them and see beyond what the ‘driven’ person oversees very often chasing the goal. If you are believed to be not friendly enough, then you probably have a couple of friends to die for and the rest is just part of the picture. This way you minimise deceit, betrayal and you will create long-lasting, deep and meaningful relationships.
I know you may not believe me, but please make a list of your assumed strengths and weaknesses. Once you complete the list, keep switching them between columns and think of situations where what you thought was weak about you, became actually your strength or, what you thought was strong about you, but failed you because you relied on it too much. Think of yourself as a whole, not pieces which you are picking to satisfy yourself and others. Unless whoever around you is willing to buy the whole box of you, without picking and telling you what they do not like, they are not worth your time. Don’t feel bad about it. They probably too consumed with their insecurities to notice you anyway.
4. Once you’ve spread your wings, it would take cutting them off to fit back into the group.
The moment you make the step and arduously break away from your confinements, spread your wings and just as you wait for them to dry other caterpillars will be already moaning that you have changed, you don’t fit, enquiring what was wrong with your previous life that you decided to break away, ‘don’t you like being a caterpillar? For heaven’s sake it’s safer to walk, you don’t even know which way the wind blows, what if you lose your way? You will regret that you didn’t stay, you will be alone’, whereas they will stay together. ‘Caterpillars don’t fly!’
If you decide to return, number one, you would have to crawl back into your old skin, which by now would be dead anyway, meaning that there is nothing left for you to crawl back into, and you would have to cut your wings off because otherwise you wouldn’t fit into your previous lifestyle. That is, if you decide to cut your dreams, bleed and regret for the rest of the life that you didn’t just let the wind take you. On the contrary, should you decide that there is no way back, you better turn your back on the caterpillars because you don’t need their negativity and you need to stay focused on what is ahead of you.
“When she transformed into a butterfly, the caterpillars spoke not of her beauty, but of her weirdness. They wanted her to change back into what she always had been. But she had wings”
~ Dean Jackson
5. No one has ever gone far and achieved unachievable by being afraid to leave the flock.
Einstein said that
“the one who follows the crowd will usually get no further than the crowd. The one who walks alone, is likely to find himself in places no one has ever been.”
If you learn how to be yourself you will gain more confidence in choosing your own path and discover things about your life that you would have not otherwise discovered, because your mind would be cluttered with the words of all ‘well-wishers’. You will be able to pursue your dreams, because there won’t be negative people around you and the only person you will be competing with would be you. Keep moving and never look back.
6. Being yourself will tune you into your life and allow you be in the right place at the right time.
Whatever it is in your life that you want, once you know yourself, once you have accepted yourself and once you learn how to use all your skills without choosing between ‘bad’ and ‘good’, you will be able to make life-changing decisions with more confidence, because you will know what you are bringing into the deal. Whether you want to drop everything and explore unexplored, or you want to enter the dating scene, or you just want to enjoy life experiences and go with the current – the possibilities are endless, knowing you will help you know your path and not settle for things that will eventually make you unhappy.
7. Changing for others will force you to lower your expectations.
You may think that you are aiming too high and therefore this is the reason why you have not yet achieved what you have planned. You are possibly thinking about lowering your expectations so other people that otherwise wouldn’t be able to cross over to you now gain access. From experience I must say that this is a mistake. You will not change only because you lower your expectations. The you will still be there, wishing you never gave up and will either force you one day to make drastic changes in your life, often sacrificing other people, or you will keep on living wishing you never started doubting. You will end up stuck in a job, relationship or anything for that matter that will drain you, because the arrangement you entered would not be equal. It is better to wait than regret that choice.
If you need to retune feel free to change patterns, take up new activities, change jobs, or even countries. Do something that will take you from the box you have put yourself into because of the demands of your life. It’s much simpler to do it when you are single and independent. Once you have a family then the situation looks much different. You would be surprised how many opportunities are waiting just around the corner, but only if you are willing to overcome the fear and leave your comfort zone. That’s where the life begins after all – at the end of it.