In Pursuit of Okay

Being yourself is a lazy abstraction that can make you feel good for no reason at all.

The premise of my earlier essay on being yourself was we all want to be like someone else – and being yourself is an innately stupid idea invented by snobs.

It’s been a year since I wrote that essay and the premise now ought to be more mature. Or I endeavor as much.

Behind the facade of being yourself is an important idea: Being disliked.

We all want to be liked.

We may claim not to care about whether people like us, but knowing someone doesn’t like you unnerves you. As much as you want to ignore that queasy feeling and as hard as you try to loathe the person in return for not liking you, you struggle with the truth that someone doesn’t like you.

We believe we are supposed to be the person that doesn’t like other people. Not the other way around. See logic.

Here’s something sad: In the pretext of being yourself, you could be an obnoxious sleazeball and there will be people that still like you because they need something from you – thereby reinforcing your shitty behaviors. The world has produced far too many jackasses through this approach. And that won’t change anytime soon.

Change depends on how you react to being disliked. The reaction could be feedback to make small changes or it could be an affirmation to continue to be yourself. To be able to see is the distinction is what’s called maturity.

Here’s what we get wrong about being yourself: If you are being yourself to look cool, rebellious and sophisticated, it’s not called being yourself. It’s being insecure.

Being yourself is not about standing out from the crowd. It’s letting go of the need to fit-in without being an insufferable asshat.

Old people do this with ease. Not because they explicitly don’t give a shit about you. But because they aren’t trying to impress you.

Most times, the love and affection that wells up in their sparkly eyes can fill all the cracks in your life. They have reached a point where whether you dislike them for who they are is not a criterion guiding their life.

On hearing of the dislike, they will laugh – loudly, awkwardly and beautifully and go on loving anyway. Because it’s okay. Because they have tried everything else and realized this is the only thing that works.

Being yourself is not a popularity contest. It’s being okay about being disliked for your values. It’s being okay about being disliked for saying no. It’s being okay with being disliked for not fulfilling society’s expectations of you. It’s being okay about laughing – loudly, awkwardly, beautifully and being okay.

You don’t have to be yourself. You just need to be okay. Because, most times, being okay is enough.

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