• Alwia

The Worst Advice You've Probably Ever Got

We've all been in this situation:

You have an interview or some kind of social gathering and feeling very uncomfortable and nervous. You say this to a friend who turns around in true Hollywood style, pats you on the back and says: 'Don't worry, just be yourself.'

What in the hell does that even mean?

First of all, let me point out one thing: It's a paradox to deliberately be natural. I can't force myself to be 'myself'. Behaving in character is something you do spontaneously, just like breathing. Have you ever tried to focus on your breathing? Try it. Once you start breathing in a deliberate way, the whole process becomes very difficult. I'm not talking about yoga breathing, I'm saying try to be conscious of you breathing in and out while eating or chatting to someone. You'll drive yourself crazy.

Second of all, I'm not an objective observer of my own character. And honestly, when people say: 'Alwia, be yourself,' I have no clue what that entails. If you think about it, it's quite a philosophical question. You need to really understand who you are and what your personality comes across as, to be able to switch on your 'true' character when you need it. When you're comfortable, your character just shows through without thinking. It's not a switch. So what's the point of saying to someone who's feeling uncomfortable:

'I know you're not being yourself cuz you're uncomfortable, but don't worry, just be yourself.'

Dude, I can't BE myself exactly because I am uncomfortable. It's a symptom of nervousness/discomfort not a cure for it.

Thirdly, I don't know about all of you, but I have a vague awareness that my character is different when I'm in different social circles. So yeah, there's no set of behaviors that I can latch onto and say: yeah these characteristics are what make me, me. My personality alters depending on the situation and who I'm with.

This brings me to the fourth issue with this piece of advice:

What if a person is naturally loud and inappropriate? Surely, 'being themselves' is the worst thing for them to do, say, if they were in the middle of an interview. Like Chandler from Friends! In one episode, Phoebe trains him to get rid of his impulse to crack jokes all the time before an interview. Despite the fact that sarcasm is a huge part of who he is, Chandler went against his natural instincts in order to behave appropriately for the situation. You see? The things you can learn from Friends...

Phoebe may be ditsy but I think she exhibited ideal friend behaviour. When you're nervous you need practical solutions and tips. You need someone to help you manage you anxiety and discomfort effectively. Once this happens, you'll naturally begin to behave 'like yourself'- whatever that means...

Food for thought in this week's post! As always, remember to comment, like, share and...SUBSCRIBE. I appreciate all your support and see you again next Tuesday.

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