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It’s Not Easy Being You

It’s Not Easy Being You

By Donna Dunning

Donna DunningYears ago, an insightful elementary teacher noticed our daughter had matching socks and called us into the school for a parent-teacher meeting. He told us she was changing, not participating in class, and developing an attitude. He knew our daughter, typical to her ENFP preferences, was usually a creative, non-conforming spirit. She dressed unconventionally, never wore matching socks, and participated enthusiastically in learning.

Turns out the popular girls had accepted her into their group and she wanted to fit in so much she forgot who she actually was. I don’t think this tendency ends in childhood. Peers have a strong influence on who we are and we may mimic what they think is important.

Buckling under social pressure

We all adapt our behaviors to be socially acceptable, fit into our environment, and not offend or irritate others. This is, at times, a wise practice. Dave Matthews expresses this idea when he sings, “I find sometimes it’s easy to be myself. Sometimes I find it’s better to be somebody else.” The trick is to adapt without losing ourselves. To accomplish this we need to figure out when we are ourselves and when we are being somebody else.
The pressure to be somebody else can start early. Perhaps your parents or other family members expected you to act or be a certain way that wasn’t really you. Children see what their parents value and may accept or reject these values. Either way, it’s hard to not be influenced by your family of origin. The messages your family members sent you as a child have likely become ingrained.
On a broader scale, societal influences are also constantly sending messages about who you should be and what is important. Owning things, being attractive, staying young, and spending lots of money to have fun are just a few examples of the advertising and media messages bombarding you everyday.

Wanting to be someone else

I think we all sometimes wish we were someone else. I love my creative, spontaneous way of living, but sometimes, especially when discouraged or under stress, I wish I was naturally more structured and organized.
I have had clients who were trying so hard to “fix” themselves that they defined themselves by who they wished they could be. Although I am all for personal development and improvement, we need to recognize when the actions we take are developmental, not core. I can be organized, but would never consider organization as part of my core. Accepting our strengths and challenges is part of self-discovery.
How can you ensure you are really being yourself and not buckling under the pressure to be someone else? How do you separate the true you from all of the messages and pressures suggesting who you should be?

Finding yourself

Somewhere under all the layers lies the real you. Here are a few tips to dig down and figure out who you are.
• Decode and evaluate the messages you have been hearing. Who is pressuring you? How are they affecting your choices and activities?

• Monitor your energy and stress levels. Acting outside of your natural preferences for long periods of time is generally tiring and difficult.

• Figure out what gets you motivated. When are you excited and energized? This is likely a time you are using your preferred approach.

Have you separated who you really are from the pressures to be somebody else? Do you have any tips or thoughts on how to help others be themselves?


Looking for a practical resource to help you plan your ideal career? Check out my book, What’s Your Type of Career?: Find Your Perfect Career By Using Your Personality Type


This entry was posted on Monday, November 18th, 2013 at 8:40 am and is filed under Blog. You can follow any responses to this entry through the RSS 2.0 feed. You can leave a response, or trackback from your own site.

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