Save yourself, follow your gut

Hillary Hetrick, @hillarymhetrick

Take a moment to think back to your early childhood, to the days where you were carefree and nothing but your happiness mattered.

Then think to that time at around age 4 or 5, you entered a public or private school. It was there you met other students your age and were thrown into believing that you have to act like them and dress like them in order to “fit in.”

Let’s take just a moment to reflect on this time in our lives. If we didn’t act a certain way or wear just the right stylish clothes, we were singled out and teased. No one thought of being their own person. Everyone wanted to be just like everyone else, following the social norm.

I read two articles a while back on Psychology Today, one of which was written by Dr. Mark D. White. He wrote, “be true to your core identity rather than faking a different one.”

It is important to not steer away from who we really are on the inside. I believe that trying to “fit in” damages our true identity. We get so caught up in being like everyone else instead of exploring what makes us different.

In short, this prevents the taunts of our peers but ultimately leads to stress since we begin to constantly worry if we are succeeding in fooling everyone.

The article goes on to say that, “you want to present the best you to other people, so [it] means reflecting on who you are and who you want to be.”

If it is important to be who we are, then we need to work on improving who we actually are. To do this we must step away from the cookie cutter image people urge us to be. It is best to just be yourself.

It sounds easy, but according to the second article I read on Psychology Today, Donna Arazie writes, “being true to yourself takes time and effort.”

We need to not only be ourselves, but also be authentic and true to who we really are. Arazie said, “to be authentic means to find the key to happiness and success within one’s self, not within society.”

We don’t need to focus on fitting in. Our success in life depends on what we want, not what society tells us to want.

Standing up for ourselves is equally important. Arazie stated, “it takes courage, honesty and a desire to be free of other’s opinions.” She believes that it doesn’t matter what other people think. Her favorite quote is, “What you think of me is none of my business.”

As we go on with our daily lives, we need to take a second look at where we are now and where we want to be. Being who we are begins with what makes us happy.

From my own experience, I was working in the healthcare field, kicking myself forward in a career that was meaningful but was lacking my true passion. Looking back on my suppressed self, I was always happiest staying up half the night writing stories and song lyrics.

Now to prepare for my future, I came back to college to finish my associate’s degree instead of remaining in a career I’m not intended to be in. I want to be a testament that proves that our success will find us if we are true to ourselves.

I am going to follow my dreams and I believe that success will find me if I excel in what makes me happy. I believe that we all have that choice.

We each only have one life and if we waste it on trying to fit in, or getting ourselves stuck in a daily routine that doesn’t express our true identity, we will never find the true meaning behind our own lives.

If we strive to be ourselves, we will find true happiness.