Moments of complete freedom are only experienced when we are completely ourselves. No gimmicks. No pretending. It’s the kind of freedom that allows you to love who you see in the mirror, first thing in the morning.

We no longer worry about wearing a certain persona to make ourselves more appealing to those around us. Their opinions of us don’t hold as much weight anymore.

For most of us living in this day and age, the opposite is true. We want people to like us. We want to be accepted by whatever group we’re attracted to. But that almost always reconstructs who we really are.

It causes us to shrivel up and throw a blanket over our uniqueness in the face of opposition. And sometimes, it even changes us into the characters we never wanted to become.

Longing to be more than who we are, we leave our best selves in the dust.

Courage frees you to be yourself.

If you take a look around, you’ll see people who are mostly concerned about what other people think about them. They endeavor to mold themselves into the image of everyone’s liking.

Trying to brush off every nook and cranny of themselves, they strive to give off the impression that everything is perfectly fine. That everything is as it should be. When in reality, it’s not — not even close.

There are reasons for this. For one, we live in a culture that glorifies perfection, even though they tell us not to concern ourselves too much with it.

Commercials and advertisements are full of artificial portrayals of what “real” looks like. Social media drills depictions into our heads of what beauty and success are supposed to embody. Young girls and boys are left with the idea that their identity stems from the amount of clout they have.

It’s no wonder we lose sight of just how beautiful and successful we already are, assuming that every aspect of our lives needs to adjust at the scroll of a finger.

The process of adaptation is not inherently evil.

We need to be able to adjust to life’s constant cycles and pendulum swings. That ability is not lost on what we choose to take in. But it affects us in more ways than we realize.

Where we fail to encourage improvement in our lives is found in neglecting to address what we’re shaped by.

Our worldviews and perspectives have all been shaped by our surroundings. From an early age, we have the seeds of how we should think, believe, and act planted within us.

Rather than going with the flow, there’s an opportunity to broaden your views, both of yourself and the world around you. We almost always stop at what other people want us to believe.

This doesn’t mean you should undermine different perspectives just because they aren’t the same as your own. Instead, it places the burden of responsibility on yourself to come to terms with what’s true and what isn’t.

It relieves you of the need to fit the identity of someone else.

At the core of not knowing who you are lies the gunk and grime of other opinions, thought patterns, and frameworks of how the world should be seen. It becomes less about fixing yourself and more about getting rid of what doesn’t belong in your life.

Courage, then, becomes a necessary component to be cultivated. You’ll be more willing to use courage when you remind yourself that your unique identity still matters.

Facades don’t last.

Vlogging is a thing nowadays. More and more people are starting to share things about their lives, ideas, and tips for personal development through videos. I’d be lying through my teeth if I said I didn’t spend hours watching some of them.

It’s something mesmerizing about getting a peek into someone’s personal life. How do they live? What was it that made them who they are today?

These are the questions I often ask myself before binge-watching another three or four videos. It doesn’t matter much what they look like. All I care about is getting the inside scoop.

But I started to see a trend not long ago: as more vloggers became famous, they started to change.

Pleasing the demands of their viewers instead of being true to themselves becomes the main objective. Popularity takes control of their lives in the most dangerous ways.

It’s important to note that the change I speak of is not an improvement per se. Instead, their alterations were founded on the perception they’d received from their audience. Not many stayed who they were in their first or second videos.

Now, I get it — people change. They grow as independent individuals and move on to bigger and better things. But the reasons for those changes matter. Sometimes we downplay the importance of that simply by attributing “growth” to any sort of personal development.

Just because someone changes doesn’t mean it’s for the better.

Sooner or later, you realize the facade so tempting to maintain is not worth it. You also realize that it doesn’t last. Your mental wellness deserves proper care. The best way to ensure this is happening is by being yourself, even as you improve as a person.

The world doesn’t need more clones.

If it seems more acceptable to blend in with the crowd, it’s because you don’t see the problem. The world is full of clones. There are plenty of people who make their aim in life to be just like another person, and they do this long enough until who they are fades into the background.

But the world doesn’t need another version of someone else. The world needs you — your creativity, compassion, experiences, and all the personality you have.

It’s time you stopped hiding your identity for the sake of clout. Our journeys include our own mistakes, the kinds of missteps our role models didn’t make. And that’s okay.

The best version of you is often the one you strive so hard to conceal.

Your anxiety, your depression, your self-hatred can easily balloon from constant attempts to cover up who you really are.

The greatest impact you can make on someone else won’t come from you trying to be someone else. It will come from you being wholly and completely yourself, with all of your quirks and so-called weirdness.

Kevin Horton is a 24-year-old photographer, student, modest bookworm, and wanna-be web developer with a new-found love for writing. He writes helpful words about creativity, productivity, and the enjoyably simple life.





Image courtesy of Monica Turlui.