What does that phrase mean? Just be yourself. I mean, is it even possible to not be yourself? If you are not yourself, whose self are you being? A friend’s? A relative’s? A stranger’s? A construct?
So I went and look up Wikipedia about the Self and saw a page about Self in Jungian psychology. And I thought, hey, Carl Jung, isn’t he like some famous psychologist with that thing about slip of tongue, he should know something about the self. Well, I was wrong about two things. (1) Carl Jung isn’t a psychologist, he’s a psychiatrist. Apparently there’s a difference. Psychiatrist are medical doctors trained to deal with mental disorders, psychologists are doctoral degree holders in the study of the human mind. (2) Jung wasn’t the one with the slip of tongue, that was Freud.
Anyhoo, I clicked into the page and literally understood nothing about it. I think it’s more of a symbol? Not something I was looking for. So I went to look at the regular, non Jungian page about self.
So self is the subject of one’s own experience of phenomena: perception, emotions, and thoughts. In short, (I think, and I might be really, really wrong about this) you are your own self and your self is the sum of your experiences. You are your experiences, right? Your memories make you who you are. It reminds me of this Joker quote from the Killing Joke – Memories are what our reason is based upon. Not really important, just interesting.
So when people say just be yourself, I’m like duh, what other self am I going to be? I can’t be you, I can’t be my friends, and I can’t be someone other than myself. And even if I tried, I would just be my own version of that someone. It’s based on what I think that person would act, which is drawn from my own experience, which in the end is still myself. And when you want to be a little more confident, a little more charismatic, you’re still you, right? Sure, an exaggeration of you, slightly pushing against the boundary of your usual self, but it’s still drawn from your experience. Your memories. So at the end of the day, whatever you try to be, you’re never going to be someone other than yourself, because your perception is what you’re drawing on to be someone else, therefore in the end you’re still yourself. Right? (Try reading that ten times faster.)
Yeah, I’m just arguing semantics. With myself. It’s just a thought I had about this self thing and what people mean when they say just be yourself. I guess it just means be natural and don’t think too much about it. Just act instinctively and get out of your head, unlike what I’m doing right now.
Anyhoo, that’s all from me. Sorry about that little ramble. I’m going to leave this here. The inspiration that led to this post. I watched it a couple of years ago, during my John Green craze phase and thought of everything in this post. I wasn’t blogging back then, so I’m writing about it now. And in case you’re too lazy to watch through the entire video, here’s the specific quote:
“The fourth way to get a boy to like you is to be yourself. Now, I am contractually obligated as an adult to give that advice, even though it doesn’t work. But yeah, be yourself, even though no one has any idea what it means to be yourself. Like whose self would I otherwise be being?”
– John Green