How to stay true to yourself, even when it’s hard to stay true to yourself

We live in a world of assumed identities. A world of secret agents. We smile and shake hands and talk with people who often don’t give us the tiniest clue as to who they really are. Every once in a while, though, I meet a person who shines. A person who has gone to the Land of Giving No F*cks and I curl up like a leaf inside, wishing I had the courage to be that person. Not that person specifically, but that person who does what they want, wears what they want, and says what they want because they are so real with themselves and who they are that they’re not afraid to show it to the world. I’ve spoken with many people in my life who express the same desire. They wish they could do this, that, or the other, but they cannot because of this, that, or the other. We are prisoners of our own insecurities. We are prisoners of our assumed identities.

I believe that many, if not nearly all of us, struggle with being true to ourselves. Whether it’s because of expectations, insecurities, a fear of change, or a thousand other reasons, we cannot seem to look in the mirror and like what we see there. I am not speaking specifically of self-loathing. I’m talking about opening the door of possibility, self-fulfillment, integrity, and happiness. I have come to believe that without a true, open channel with oneself, without a true sense of wholesome identity and self-honesty, it is entirely impossible to be truly happy. It is so easy to become passive. I have this problem, and I really, really dislike it. Instead of continuing to get to know myself, to explore the world and achieve the things that I want to achieve, have adventures I want to have, I have grown passive. Because it’s easy. Because having any sort of fulfilling relationship needs constant work and that includes a relationship with yourself. 

So, I made this list as a reminder/guide on how to address these issues every day, because it’s an everyday problem. I believe it’s like a muscle you must exercise daily in order to keep it strong. It’s so easy to get sucked back into the safety net, living cautiously because we are simply afraid to step outside of our comfort zone or because we are afraid someone might think poorly of us for showing our colors. But, guys, those people usually don’t exist. They are a figment of our imagination. And if they aren’t, take comfort in the knowledge that they are not happy with the person they are, or they wouldn’t be attacking the person you are. So here are a few ways to find your true self again, and how to celebrate that person.

Stop caring what other people think (no, really, stop it)

No one’s opinion matters but yours. I’m serious. I’m not telling you to tell your families, friends, lovers, etc. to go stuff it. I’m not telling you to be an inconsiderate jerk. If you want to take their opinions into consideration, that is a perfectly acceptable thing to do. But, ultimately, your opinion is the one that takes the cake. Wear what you want to wear! Eat what you want to eat! Listen to the music that you want to listen to! If you want to start practicing ballet, even though you think you’re much too old for it and everyone will think you’re dumb, forget those people. If you’re encountering a lot of negative feedback from a person in your path to self-fulfillment, you might want to double-check the toxicity level of that relationship. You don’t need negative, hurtful people in your life. Their opinions should go straight out the window.

Take yourself on dates

The only way to really get to know yourself and who you are and what you want is to take yourself out and spend time alone with you. Not in front of a movie screen, not stuck to a phone screen, not in front of a laptop screen. I’m talking real, quality time with yourself. Go get a latte and go for a walk. Go for a bike ride. Go sit by the pool and sip some iced tea. Go hiking. Go explore. Go to a museum. Go do something. Turn off the cellphone (or at least silence it) and just be with yourself. In the world of technology we live in, it’s so easy to give into the compulsion to constantly distract yourself. We’re so addicted to distracting ourselves, in fact, that we become uncomfortable being alone with our thoughts. Distractions no more! Your goal should be to be your new BFF.

Keep a journal

I know, I know, you may be cringing inside, thinking of that diary you kept when you were fourteen, that little black book of crushes and mean things people said to you and the things you thought were so cool, but that’s not what I’m talking about. Guys, listen. Journaling is so awesome. It is hands down the best way to get in touch with yourself. You’ll discover things you didn’t even know about yourself. Sometimes it’s scary, sometimes it’s wonderful, but ideally, you will grow to look forward to your journaling time. It’s like having a conversation with yourself, which is awesome.

Give yourself permission

Always, always, give yourself permission to do what you want to do (if it’s reasonable and does not involve explosives, sharp objects, or being a jerk). It’s so easy to hesitate, to make up excuses not to do something: you don’t have enough time, it’s too hard, you don’t have the money, so-and-so will think you’re ridiculous, etc. Put all of that aside and just do what you want to do. I know that is so much easier said than done. You are your own worst enemy when it comes to achieving things that are wonderful and new when, in fact, most of the time, you are the only thing preventing yourself from achieving something. Be brave, my friends! 

Love yourself

I know, that sounds so New-Agey, but it is the most important factor in all of this. You cannot be true to yourself if you do not like yourself. If you do not like yourself, find out why. It may be beneficial to go to a therapist. Or, just spend some time with yourself, journaling, walking, doing things you’ve always wanted to do and wearing things you always wanted to wear and ridding yourself of toxic relationships. It may be what it takes for you to take come full circle and realize that you are your best friend, the person you can always count on. If you have a beautiful relationship with yourself, you’ll have necessary knowledge to apply to relationships with others. It’s reciprocal, honestly. The more you love yourself, the more you are true to yourself. The more you are true to yourself, the more you grow to love yourself.

Amanda Deadmarsh co-owns the blog Media for Misfits with her nutty sister, Sarah Lestrange, and is a regular contributor. She loves books, writing things, creepy things, crayons, and pastries. Though she wishes she had a thousand cats, she is terribly allergic and has none. She lives in Las Vegas, NV with her snarky, adorable husband and is pecking away at a novel, a time travel machine, and a plot to take over the universe.

Image via Imgion