If there’s one principle I have to live with throughout the years I still have left, it’s the words from the great Oscar Wilde:
Be yourself; everyone else is already taken.
It might have been an ideal principle to evolve my world around now, but it wasn’t so when I first encountered those words eons ago.
I was an awkward teen like most teenagers are. To make it worse, my mind had matured earlier than those of my peers, making it more difficult to relate to kids my own age. So, I became an introvert.
Oh, I had the makings of it long before my pubescent stage. I enjoy doing things alone although I have friends to call my own and sometimes spend recreational activities with like going to the mall, watching a movie or just hanging out. But I was a quiet child.
The feeling of not really “fitting in” is the fact that I read a lot. It’s one of the things I do to pass time and I’ve carried over to my adult life. I’ve been well-versed on the classics at an early age (and under the insistence of my literature-enthusiast father). To make it worse, I’ve developed a love for rock n’ roll — something that was easily not the norm for thirteen-year-olds, much less for a girl who’s supposed to be giggling and swooning over Vanilla Ice, Debbie Gibson and New Kids on the Block.
But it wasn’t so bad — at least for me. It was bad from a spectator’s point of view though; spectators, meaning, family.
I knew my father was concerned. He would often check up on me whenever I stay inside my room the whole day by knocking on my door and annoyingly ask what I’m doing. I even caught him talking to my mother and sisters and wondering what I’ve been doing inside my room and if I’m still alive, especially when I’m in my room for so long with the stereo was cranked up high playing Smashing Pumpkins and Pearl Jam.
That memory makes me smile. It’s good to know that one of the parental units was genuinely concerned about the middle child. (By the way, middle child syndrome is NOT qualified for everyone — definitely not me.)
Anyway, there’s supposed to be a disclaimer to Oscar Wilde’s quote. It should be said to a twenty or thirty-year-old woman about to make a major business pitch in front of industrialists and business tycoons, not a teenager struggling with identifying to a particular clique and who’d rather not be herself especially when people’s expectations were at stake.
Although I enjoy being alone, people in school and the clan expected differently from the Colonel’s daughter. I ought to be outgoing — the life of the party — much to my chagrin. So, I pretended. I got quite well with it, too. How did I know? It’s because whenever I’m with mixed company or in public, I automatically assume my alter ego. Does that make me schizophrenic? I hope not.
As pretenses go, I’ve realized I’ve been doing it for the wrong reasons.
- Why should I please people I don’t know, much less care about?
- Am I doing it for them, for my parents or for me?
- Is it selfish to say that I need to be myself regardless of what people think?
I got my answers when I went to college.
You see, no one in the university I went to knew about my esteemed Air Force Colonel father apart from the college department chairperson. So, I got to enjoy my college years despite the fact that it was an all-girls school run by nuns.
At last, I get to be myself — in a sense.
I don’t really care much that the only people I can talk to about music can be counted in one hand. People don’t care that I am into dark fantasy and that I paint or sketch while listening to Mozart, Bach or Tchaikovsky. They don’t care that my humor is slightly twisted from the conventional girl my age. They don’t care that I carry a large hot pink backpack to school with my demonology book inside together my Trapper Keeper filled with poetry and doodles.
Regardless of my eccentricities, I’ve been accepted by many. I made lasting friends that accepted me for what I am. It was a breather I least expected when I started college.
You see, pretending or trying to copy someone else is very taxing. It creates a duplicity within you that drains you of your inner worth. In the end, you’ll end up a poor imitation of the original.
So why be somebody else when you can be yourself and just try to polish the rough edges, turning coal to a diamond? That, my friends, is the question that I’ve struggled to find the answer to during the better half my existence. If the goal is to change for the better, the ticket is not to impersonate somebody else; the ticket is to be inspired by another person’s good qualities and try to fit those qualities within you that will make your own self shine, not strain you in keeping up appearances of someone you definitely are not.
At present, Oscar Wilde’s quote resonates well and I’ve lived with it since the year of my enlightenment.
Be yourself; everyone else is already taken.
To build up confidence to live a stress-free life, I have to be myself. I don’t need to be somebody else to please others because like what they say, “You cannot please everyone. So, why bother?”