Be Yourself

“Be who you are and say what you feel, because those who mind don’t matter, and those who matter don’t mind.”
― Dr. Seuss

‘Be yourself’ the sages say, but they don’t tell you how to be yourself. How can you be yourself if you don’t know who you are? I know who I am; I stick to my principles. Sometimes it’s hard to remember what they are when the whole world seems to be crumbling around me. And there are some people who make it difficult for me to remember to love the person even when they are being obnoxious. How does one gain self awareness? How can we become who we are supposed to be?

I don’t have all the answers; I don’t think any one person does. There are enlightened people in this world; they will be the first to tell you they don’t have all the answers. I read a lot, consider, revise, discard, read some more, listen to people, talk to them, then make up my own mind about things.

We have forgotten civility – it’s been a long time coming. Does anyone else remember a time when we could have discussions, debates, on important issues without resorting to name-calling? Without labeling someone a Nazi or a Communist? We don’t respect ourselves, let alone each other. If we have no love nor respect for ourselves, how can we respect and love others?

There are things about myself I don’t necessarily like; some I can change, some I can’t. I’m short – I can’t change that. I’m overweight – I can change that and I am. I hate my hair color – I do change that -regularly. I like my eye color – I don’t want to change that. There are personality traits I have that I inherited from my parents; some I like and some I don’t. I can rail against my parents for making me who I am or I can act like the grown up person I am and work on changing what I don’t like or at least harnessing that trait for positive instead of negative.

I used to worry about what others thought about me; I wanted to be loved by everyone. Then I discovered I was tearing myself apart trying to be all things to all people. I decided that I didn’t like everyone I met so why should I expect everyone I met to like me? I began to change. I started the journey to becoming who I am meant to be. It has been a long journey with many detours along the way. And I expect there will be more detours.

There are people in this world who are negative, who are always complaining, as I used to do. Now, I focus on what I want, on what I have, instead of on what I don’t have and what I don’t want. Although positive thinking wasn’t easy at first, I have found that it is now almost second nature; I don’t have to think about it most of the time. We can find the positive in every negative if we only look.

Being myself is a lifelong journey. And life itself is a journey; a journey I am enjoying more as I become more who I am.

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Honoring human beings

We are living in a ‘throw-away’ society. At one time, goods were made to last, and the US manufactured items that were well-made. It used to be that a company had loyalty to its employees – they were taken care of, paid well, and at retirement they had a good pension. Times have changed.

Now goods fall apart rather than wear out; people aren’t given the respect they deserve; the US doesn’t manufacture much any more because companies can get cheap labor overseas. And for those who are employed here, the company has no loyalty to them, unless they are upper management, in which case they can get huge bonuses and stock options, even if the company is losing money.

Many people seem to dismiss other people as not worthy of recognition. And I think this has grown out of the changes in our society over the last 40 or so years. We have become a people that only value those who make a lot of money, or who have a big house, or drive a fancy car, or have the ‘right’ skin color, or the ‘right’ documents. People in service occupations: store sales people, wait-staff, garbage collectors, etc. are treated like dirt by some people who use their services. I am embarrassed by what some people say and do to wait-staff and sales associates in store. It doesn’t take much to express appreciation for what these people are doing for you – how about just a simple ‘Thank you’.

The person who picks up your garbage is just as valuable as the CEO of a national company; maybe more so as what would happen if your garbage didn’t get picked up for a few weeks? We tend to look down our noses at those who earn their living by labor rather than brain. How did we get to this point? Is a garbage collector less valuable than an accountant? Is a sales associate in a department store less deserving than the CEO of the company? No! Everyone has a worth, even those who are unemployed, or on welfare, or laboring in the shadows. It’s time to get our priorities straight and honor every human being just because they are human. So let’s start treating people as if they are valuable members of society; because they are.