Free to be ourselves
“The privilege of a lifetime is being who you are.”
- Joseph Campbell
We live in a world full of different personalities and identities. Thankfully, we are not all forced to dress, act, speak or live a certain way. There are plenty of societal norms and laws that provide us with guardrails on what is acceptable or what crosses the line. It varies in every country and culture. It even varies between states, organizations and industries. In some places we have a lot more freedom to be ourselves. Sometimes we may have to be careful about what we say or how we present ourselves depending on the environment and audience, but we should never feel like we can't be ourselves, however we define that.
We all deserve to know what it feels like to be ourselves. We should not have to put on an act for anyone. We can say what we feel. We can dress how we like. We can be comfortable in our own skin and let our hair down. Or we can shave it all off. It should not matter because it makes us who we are. Unfortunately, many people grow up in environments or cultures where they are restricted or forbidden to express themselves in a way that helps define them. Even living in the US, people in the LGBTQ+ community can't even be themselves sometimes without people making a fuss about it.
For the most part in the US, we are free to be ourselves, especially compared to our history. Thankfully, LGBTQ+ rights have come a long way (with more progress being made). We can be more free with the way we dress and the way we talk. The stuffy office culture has become more flexible. Tattoos, piercings and mohawks have become mainstream. It's not as taboo to talk about our mental health. We can be a lot more free to express ourselves today than we could have 25, or even 10 years ago.
We should not feel like we have to hold back on expressing who we are or how we feel. There are times we have to be mindful of how we are presenting ourselves, especially in professional and public settings. There are certainly grey areas as to what is considered acceptable. I'm happy to see society in general becoming more relaxed with allowing us to express ourselves with less judgment and persecution. We still have plenty of progress we can make, but in the meantime, we can do our best to be ourselves while society catches up.
Psychology Today: What is Self-Acceptance? 25 Exercises + Definition and Quotes
Very Well Mind: What Is Conformity?
Healthline: ‘Who Am I?’ How to Find Your Sense of Self