Life’s too short to be someone you’re not, so be yourself instead! Sounds easy, right? Yet, in a world where social media drives nearly every action and reaction, it’s all too tempting to change yourself to fit in with the latest trend. Forget #FOMO! We’re not scared of missing out, we’ve got a serious fear of not fitting in! It’s high time to let go of #FONFI. Let me tell you why below.
Life’s Too Short to Be Anything but Yourself
The other day, I came across an anonymous quote that said, “In the end, people will judge you anyway, so don’t live your life impressing others—live your life impressing yourself.” It really is so true, especially in our hyper-connected world where literally everything you put out there is “open game” for harsh judgement from all corners of the world.
At some point, you start thinking there really is something wrong with you, something that needs changing. I mean, why else would your super cute outfit get no likes on Instagram or your insanely witty Tweet get no retweets?
“Maybe I deserved the verbal blood bath that followed my comment about the weather,” you think. Perhaps my adorable craft really wasn’t so crafty after all. Could it be that my outfit really is passé? Maybe I should have used more filters before I posted my beach vacation photos. A dozen more “maybes” and you’re on the fast track to changing yourself to fit in with the proverbial flock to impress the shepherd.
You Do You: Don’t Let Anyone Keep You from Being Yourself
Here’s a secret, though- those “shepherds” that appear to be leading the flock are really just sheep themselves. Researchers at Inderscience Publishers actually ran a study on the effect of “influencers” on the public. They found that while “most people form an opinion about a given subject when they are exposed to the views of opinion leaders,” those leaders in turn are influenced by mass media. Basically, the influencers have their own influencers!
Also, keep in mind that for every Tweet with 10K retweets, there are 100K that basically said the exact same thing yet fell flat. For every Instagram photo of a smoothie that gets 100K likes, there are a million more that went nowhere fast. And for every brilliant thought that your best friend posts on Facebook, there are a billion more mundane ones that she never shared.
In other words, if you’re modeling your behavior and personality around what social media says is “right” and “wrong,” you’re basically trying to live up to a standard that doesn’t actually exist.
Of course, social media isn’t to blame for our deep desire to fit in. We’ve acted this way long before the first tweet, pin, or status ever went up. I’m willing to bet that even the Neanderthals based their personality around what the hippest caveman (or woman, of course) was doing! The world has always been full of leaders and followers, of sheep and shepherds.
Be Yourself Because Life’s Too Short to Worry About What Others Think
Here’s where I’d tell you to be a shepherd, not a sheep, right? Wrong! I mean, that would kind of defeat the purpose of this entire post, right? No, here’s where I tell you to be what you want to be. Period. End of sentence.
If you love following the latest trends and keeping up with the Kardashians (real or metaphorically speaking), go for it. As the sheep will tell you, there’s nothing wrong with following the flock. If you want to be a shepherd and influence the masses with your wit and style, do it. Put yourself out there, set the trends, and don’t let anyone stop you.
Then there’s the third option. Break away from the flock. Do your own thing, be your own person. Not because “you do you” is trending or you want to impress people with your witty “just be yourself” memes. Not because you think you’ll come off as more edgy or laissez-faire if you march to the beat of your own drum. Certainly not because a stranger on the internet told you to. If those are your reasons, you’re just a sheep dressing up in wolves clothing.
Do it because you truly feel that it’s the only way to be true to yourself. Set your own rules. Define your own style. Never let anyone make you feel like you don’t measure up. As Judy Garland once said, “Always be a first-rate version of yourself and not a second-rate version of someone else.”
Seriously, life’s too short to be someone you’re not, so be yourself. Leave the pretending to the actors. At least they’re getting paid for it!