telling someone to “just be yourself” is such a bullshit and unhelpful phrase. often times the reason people aren’t themselves, is because the environment in which they’re in has made them feel like it’s not okay to be who they are. on some level, they have been rejected for “just being themselves”. whether that’s by being yelled at, being overlooked for a job position, or being criticised and judged - in some form or another, their natural behaviour has been punished resulting in them retreating back into themselves and hiding behind a mask. why? because it’s safe there. no one will judge you if you colour within the lines. it’s when you step outside of those, step outside of what’s considered the norm, that you’re subjected to being judged. and that has absolutely nothing to do with you and everything to do with the environment.
so instead of telling people to “be themselves” why not create an environment in which people feel safe to be themselves? an environment in which they feel safe to remove their masks, to let down their guards, to be their goofy, silly, ridiculous selves? we put too much pressure on individuals to overcome their environments when we should be putting pressure on people to create better environments. i believe we’re all responsible for making another individual feel safe and in essence, we’re responsible for allowing them to be themselves.