Someone Else?

Soon after I began investigating self-help books, I wondered what and how much can I change and remain being myself. There is always the risk of rejecting oneself, in favor of an idealized mental fantasy about how one is “supposed” to be.

I had previously witnessed one of my fellow travelers embark on the quest to completely remake his life. As Gary (not his actual name) tried to change a few of his unique characteristic behaviors, he started his deep-dive into self-improvement. Gary started to come off as fake. It’s hard to put my finger on it, but something about our conversations didn’t feel quite right. There was too much fake while he tried to fake it before making it. One thing for sure is that Gary was no longer himself.

The depth and spontaneity of his personality were cloudy–no longer sharp and crisp. Gary had been a pretty hot guy because of his authenticity. He possessed  a funny kind of cockiness that disappeared almost immediately after he began his journey into self-improvement. I missed his sense of presence and rowdy humor. It was apparent that Gary was in the process of becoming someone else–but not in a good way. I even wondered about the state of his mental health. After Gary sold all of his belongings and moved to Washington State, he cut off all contact with his friends-group and me.

I continued to keep the extreme case of Gary’s “journey” in mind as I dipped my feet into the diverse world of self-improvement. After all, I certainly didn’t want to lose the essence of my inner core of being. How can I have positive self-regard and expect anyone else to like me for who I am if I try to become someone else? Can I have an understanding friend if I have to behave like someone else whenever I’m with him? In other words, I did not want to follow Gary’s path of self-obliteration and radical change.

There were certain habits that needed to go away, like cigarette smoking. As it turned out, I felt more authentic after quitting tobacco because I was no longer hiding behind the cloud of smoke. I rediscovered more constructive things to do whenever I felt fidgety and tense.

I’m not yet where I want to be; there are a few other questionable behavior habits yet to conquer. The idea is to tread carefully as I pare away self-destructiveness to reveal the simplicity of just being myself. This will probably be a life-long process.

Many years ago, country singer Tammy Wynette appeared at the old “Granada Theater” in downtown Norfolk, Nebraska. I was granted an interview with the superstar. Following the formal interview, Wynette urged me to stay a while longer just to chat. After a couple of minutes of small-talk, she inched her way closer to ask me questions about my life and what I envisioned for myself. She seemed sincerely interested in interviewing me to discover how I spent my formative years and early work history leading up to my radio jobs.

Wynette then commented that we seemed to have had somewhat parallel life experiences. She shared some words of wisdom that I’ll try to paraphrase. “Do not try to copy me. Always do your best to be more like yourself. You’ll have a better life if you keep trying to be a better version of who you really are.”

Tammy dismissed me because she needed to prepare for her two shows that night. I returned to the station, edited the interview tape and wrote a few feature stories to use on the air the next day.

Later, I attended Wynette’s first show. Midway through her program, Wynette pointed to me while dedicating my favorite Wynette song, “Stand By Your Man”. I was floored and honored. Although her health was precarious, Tammy Wynette shined like the star she was always meant to be. Her voice revealed her inner strength and being. Wynette was all about being herself, loving who she was, and unashamedly sharing her authentic self with the world. The woman who suffered from chronic health problems was, in fact, a lady who became strong when she was immersed in her art.

If you stop and ponder the concept of being oneself, there is a little bit of fear-factor. The scariness is the main hurdle to conquer because one might wonder whether or not others will accept who we really are. We forget that other people are more concerned with their own business and don’t care much about our business. In fact, most people couldn’t care less. So why try being someone else? Our main job is to be the best version of who we truly are.

The Blue Jay of Happiness quotes the founder and former CEO of Groupon, Andrew Mason. “I’ve been very lucky, from the beginning. I’ve found that as long as you’re fundamentally good–as long as you’re not being bad to people–people give you a lot of room to be yourself, because being yourself is being honest. And that’s what people want to see.” 

About swabby429

An eclectic guy who likes to observe the world around him and comment about those observations.
This entry was posted in cultural highlights, Hometown and tagged , , . Bookmark the permalink.

13 Responses to Someone Else?

  1. Alien Resort says:

    What a great opportunity. When I think about who has the best singing voice, she is one of the first that comes to mind.

  2. Morning. One key for just about everybody is, I think, to try and become more emotionally open.

  3. Very nicely explained what actually is self improvement not trying to something we are not.

    • swabby429 says:

      Indeed. Unfortunately, there are a few lifestyle coaches who advocate becoming a “new you”. They hold seminars and retreats designed to fortify such a mission. I suspect, but don’t know for sure, that Gary fell under the influence of one of those gurus.

  4. rkrontheroad says:

    What a great opportunity, and her words have stayed with you. I have a hard time with self-help books. I find it more rewarding to listen to an inner voice, if you can.

    • swabby429 says:

      The fact that Wynette wanted to “interview” me is something I’ll never forget. Her concern and warmth were candid and authentic. She was one of those people who could put you at ease with her facial expressions alone. Such moments are etched in the mind forever.

  5. This is a helpful warning. If self-help turns into self-disgust, you have a problem.

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