• Kanika Lal

What Does "Be Yourself" Mean in Today's Society?

Frankly, I don't know anymore.

Living in La La Land for the past five years, where I happened to move to in my early twenties, was challenging in both ways. One reason was due to the fact that early twenties is already a battle in defining ourselves and what we want out of life. The other being because L.A. is a city that is beautifully toxic by putting others in a "box" and labeling them with a tag, consciously and subconsciously. I am not necessarily complaining, but the meaning of "be who you are...your authentic self" has been redefined drastically in today's time and in the industry of Hollywood.

We are constantly reminded on social media to tune out the noise, meditate to listen to our inner spirit, - which some claim to be bullshit, respectfully - and live out our authentic selves. We call out false advertising and branding now towards social influencers, disingenuous reality stars, but elect some to office because we are fed up with misleading politics. (I know that last statement is highly debatable for some).

What I'm trying to get at here is no definitive end point, but instead, ask questions and work through this process in my head, and with whomever reading, about accessing and unlocking the self.


1. This one may be obvious, but how do we even know how to be ourselves in the company of others? After all, we're always putting on a "wee bit" of a front, aren't we?

2. Whose to say that when we ARE being ourselves, it's not misconstrued on what we THINK ourselves to be because we're confusing it with what our parents want us to be, friends, and society?

3. How do we come to full realization and confidence that this is who we are, own it, and act upon it every second?

4. SHOULD we act upon it every second, or should we sometimes play another role?

5. We are complicated beings, I'm sure we can't fully be ourselves all the time, as some parts of us are hidden at times. Right? (After all, we have Rising, Sun and Moon signs for those out there who are horoscope addicts...)

6. I am over-complicating and overthinking this, aren't I?

Now, if you don't mind, I'd like to offer at least some credit here that I know who I am and how to be myself, despite my constant questioning...

Admittedly, these past several years of living on my own has made me realize who I fully am to an extent, and more of who I can be without suppressing it. Although it's a never-ending journey, I'd say every individual should never fear the company of oneself for a prolong period of time. It's actually the most freeing feeling in the world. You're able to make decisions that you and only you want - from where to eat, to what to watch on Netflix, to where to live. You're alone with your thoughts, which is a good and bad thing, but it helps you analyze more of yourself without family and friends offering too much of their opinion, adding to the confusion.

Lastly, the interactions you have with strangers are the most authentic because there's nobody else waiting on you, nobody else to impress, nobody else to keep in mind except yourself and the person you're talking to. It's led me to so many places and conclusions about what it is I am passionate about, interested in, completely dislike, and crave more of.

However, I find myself flying back East to visit the family during the holidays, revisiting my childhood. I say Hello to parts of me that I left behind and pushed aside in order to grow. Even parts where I ask myself, should I have let that go? Am I not myself as I thought I was?

I guess we are always redefining who we are and remembering who we are, but looking to others is not the answer. It's looking at our habits, our culture that we are all born with, our history, our interests, our vulnerable, naked, child-like selves. It's a mastery in its own that we must practice and train ourselves to be. Just like we have with negative thoughts, we must train our minds to conquer our negative thoughts with thoughts that ARE us.

I know there's more to the story, scientists and philosophers to read more about, ancestry to consider, but after some Internet article reading, I liked what these sites and authors had to say:

"When you find yourself 'blending in' with the crowd in a particular situation and you know deep down that you are not being authentic, ask yourself the question, 'Why am I not confident enough to be myself?'

This will make you aware of when you are conforming with the crowd and empower you to take small steps to move out of your comfort zone...

Then you will not only know who you are, but you will also be who you are."

Written by Matt Russell

I like that this article refers to catching yourself when you're putting on a role...

and connecting with your inner child. A tactic that is a great way in remembering our core selves.

This particular article asks some good questions, one being:

"Who can you be yourself around?"

I think surrounding ourselves with people who we truly enjoy is crucial for not only fulfilling our authentic-self search, but also our souls.

So, all of this is great, but it doesn't satisfy the question for me. It certainly helps with proper steps to take when navigating our true self, but there is more to explore thoroughly. There's a history and science to this that is important to discover.

Especially because technology and social media are at the forefront, working faster than our minds can multiply two times three.

There must be more clues to crack.

In the meantime, here's an audio clip between myself and an Uber driver from France after I had much to drink from a Golden Globes afterparty, discussing "being ourselves" in this loony Los Angeles town. It's nothing profound, but the driver was a sweetheart, and the reason that I was prompted to write this on my blog.

Here's to 2019, writing my thoughts out more and sharing it - even if it's not edited that well - and hopefully accessing my most authentic self.

Au Revoir.

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