Guest post by Samer.

If you’re anything like me, your blood boils when anyone tells you to “be yourself.” What? What does that even mean? It’s like IKEA deciding those furniture assembly instructions are just too much damn work and replacing them with a single sheet of paper telling you, “Throw this shit together. Good luck.” But ask any Ashley for dating advice, and that’s the vague answer you’ll get. Wanna attract that girl? Just be yourself. Wanna be a cool guy to be around? Be yourself. Wanna be popular and attractive? Be yourself.

What if you’re a Dungeons & Dragons nerd who doesn’t care about the way he dresses, hates going out, and prefers to read about how to pick up girls on the internet? Problem solved? I think not. I venture to say that “be yourself” is perhaps the most well-intentioned yet least helpful advice I’ve ever received.

But in the context of what she’s saying – from her mindset – the plea to “be yourself” is not a lie. She’s telling you the truth of what she wants in a different language. Men speak in terms of plans, statistics, and actions, which is why that advice is so insanely frustrating and why men turn to structured models and lines to solve the problem. “If Situation X happens, I will respond by doing Y and Z.” Men like that. Women, on the other hand, speak in terms of emotions and feelings, and Mother Nature designed them to communicate almost exclusively through the subcommunications of conversation. That’s body language, that’s vocal tone, that’s overall vibe – not words. When she’s saying “be yourself,” she’s not trying to be vague; she just wants a relaxed and confident version of you and has trouble articulating what that looks like.
She’s not saying you should accept the habits that have held you back. If you’re emotionally erratic, dependent, or socially awkward, that is not you. If you’re clumsy, anxious, depressed, or bitter, that is not you. If you’re bad at fashion, overweight, or unattractive, that is not you. If you’re needy for her validation, that is not you. When she tells you to “be yourself,” she’s not telling you to act true to those things.

Instead, she (and every other girl on Earth) is telling you to develop a strong identity and assert the fuck out of it. Decide specifically who you’re going to be – independent of anyone else – and live your life from that perspective. She’s telling you to stop seeking the approval of other people, decide what you are, and discover how to be happy in that. A wonderful exercise is to imagine the guy you want to be –remember, independent of women – and fill a page with descriptions of his behaviors, his looks, his vibe.

What does that guy look like? He’s probably in shape. He probably dresses sharp. He’s probably relaxed, confident, and has a great sense of humor. He probably has hobbies he’s dedicated to and feels quite strongly about his mission in life. He challenges himself to new heights in his career. He’s comfortable sharing himself and his opinions but doesn’t impose them in a way that is validation-seeking. He probably socializes and is friendly, even when he doesn’t feel like it. He’s aware of his emotions, but screens them before acting on the destructive ones. He’s not ashamed of his sexuality and unapologetically expresses his desires in a socially intuitive way. He’s probably unreactive and lives in the moment, unworried if any particular girl called or texted him back. He’s a leader of himself, not a follower of anyone else’s standard. He’s a pioneer. He’s relaxed. Most of all, he values his time greatly and spends each day as if it were his last, free of both guilt and worry.

These are all universally attractive traits; they’re behaviors you exhibit when you’re comfortable and confident with yourself. But this is only half of what she means by “be yourself.” The other half is your half. It’s a half where you and I will differ markedly, and it’s going to gain you a lot of girls and lose you a lot of girls, but you have to do it. And you have to do it on your own.

No one can decide the specifics of your style but you. A sense of humor is universally attractive, but everyone has a different style of humor. Some people are goofy, some people are clever and quick witted, some sarcastic, yet others prefer stories. That’s why lines and routines that work for one guy may not work for you: it’s a matter of congruency. It’s healthy to experiment and see what style you have the most fun with. Humor, like conversation, is a skill that can be developed and learned.

So is fashion! Experiment with at least three vastly different styles of fashion and gauge which one works for you. Force yourself to get out of your comfort zone, and I promise you’ll be genuinely surprised by the results. I have at least 5 staples to my current outfits I only bought because I thought, “I could never see myself wearing this.” As it turns out, straight guys can be poor judges of stylish clothes. Go figure. Your clothes speak volumes about you, whether you intend them to or not. If you’re wearing old jeans and a free t-shirt, you’re telling the crowd that you don’t care about dressing well or turning heads. Why leave the free points on the table? Instead of using excuses like “fashion isn’t my thing,” use your clothes to say something about you.

And so it goes with your hobbies, the sports you play, the movies you watch. Journal specifically what you like, what you don’t like, how you’d like to react in situations. What you choose isn’t so important as the fact that you choose something. And yes, taking a strong stand will polarize girls. You will lose some. But that’s ok. Rejection is gift that keeps you from wasting your time. But you’ll also gain a deeper and richer connection with the women who do like who you are. And isn’t that what this is all about?

So the next time you hear a girl tell you to “be yourself,” smile knowingly and remember she wants you to decide your identity and assert the fuck out of it. And it’s damn good advice.

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15 Responses to Just Be Yourself: The Best and Worst Advice

  1. Anthony says:

    Yeah, this one of the best explanations on “just be yourself” that I have read.
    I also think that when people give that advice, what they kind of mean is that like just be the way you are when you are with friends and you’re not trying to impress people. Because alot of time people will give that advic when you’re about to go on a date, or a job interview, etc. But like you said, what if you are a an extreme nerd who can”t dress himself have horrible posture. Some people ould be like, “well that’s who he is”. So there is kind of like a “congruence paradox” at play. Like if a sexy guy acts sexy and presents himself that way people just except it. But if a “nerd” acts sexy and cool people will be like wait whats going on here. But if he acts nerdy people just accept it right. So congruence isn’t alway a good thing. And incongruence ins’t that bad. Because when trying to fiqure yourself out and get you shit together there is almost always going to be some kind of incongruence.

  2. Joshua Steven Shultz says:

    Thank you

  3. Edmont Dantès says:

    I like the article, too. Especially the paragraphs 4 to 6. You really nailed it there.

    Maybe its time to change the phrase to “Just be your BEST self.” That could be far more helpful for guys, who are nerdy, unconfident, insecure and do not care about their appearance.

    It’s actually the opposite advice to all the PUA-advice like for example: Be Alpha, be confident and so on, when in fact neither the coach nor the student have an idea what “being alpha” means or how you can get there.

    Mark, it would be great, if you could relate this post to your post on PP about “Butchering the Alpha Male”. In my opinion do they match perfectly and other readers would benefit quite a lot from it.

  4. Leo says:

    “Women, on the other hand, speak in terms of emotions and feelings, and Mother Nature designed them to communicate almost exclusively through the subcommunications of conversation. That’s body language, that’s vocal tone, that’s overall vibe – not words.”

    I loved this part of the article.

  5. mr no nickname says:

    In some ways this is a good article, because the advice it gives is good, but I am not sold on the idea that this is what an actual woman means when she says “just be yourself.”

    It may be what an ideal woman would mean, what the woman you wish you were talking to would mean, but it is not what most real women mean when they say things like this.

    What women actually mean when they tell you to be yourself is: “just be yourself in such a way that you magically anticipate and satisfy all my expectations in a man.”

    That’s what she really means, but it would sound very selfish and psychotic to say that, so instead she says, “just be yourself.”

    The reason women pick up on it when men are being inauthentic is because women spend most of their time being inauthentic themselves. They fake laugh, they use fake voices, they pretend to be more confident than they are. And on and on. So if a guy seems to be trying too hard, it reminds a woman of herself, and THAT is what is unattractive to her.

    As I said at the beginning of this comment, this is a good article, but only because a man chose a subject, thought about it, and sat down to write about it. Not because he was picking up on some helpful message from all random women are trying to send out.

    • Tim says:

      I think you’re right that women often act more confident than they really are, but so do men…

      Saying that women spend most of their time being inauthentic is pretty sexist. The fact is that we all hide our true selves constantly through-out our daily lives, and wear a variety of different masks. Calling it ‘inauthentic’ is partly accurate but also misleading.

      I don’t think women specifically find inauthenticity unattractive, because both men and women with real and fake confidence find it unattractive. Confident people are less likely to accept an inauthentic person though, whereas one with fake confidence may well accept it because they know that they’re at the same level. But you make it sound like this is something specific to not just inauthentic people, or even inauthentic women, but ALL women. And that’s just sexist thinking.

  6. David says:

    I disagree that it’s some secret message.

    She wants you to be yourself simply so she can find out who you really are – and therefore so she can decide if you’re worth pursuing or not.

    There’s someone out there for everyone (apparently Adam Lyons is a Dungeons & Dragons nerd, doesn’t seem to have hurt his chances) – ‘be yourself’ means just that, and you’ll meet someone who likes you for you.

  7. Matt T says:

    Really, who here hasn’t played Dungeons and Dragons? Even Mystery used to play quite frequently.

  8. Cameron says:

    Great post man.

    “Force yourself to get out of your comfort zone, and I promise you’ll be genuinely surprised by the results”

    This really resonated with me, I remember I went out one night wearing a bowler hat (which is pretty fucking peacocked for the west coast of scotland), I was totally nervous about it but ended up making out with two girls and having a whale of a time. Recommended.

  9. Zac says:

    “He’s aware of his emotions, but screens them before acting on the destructive ones.”

    It took reading this to really realize what the point of all this non re activity and self reflection is. It’s not to not be emotional. It’s to disregard the emotions that don’t help you.

    This was a great article. I love the fact that I could share stuff from this site with my friends and feel comfortable with it. A+ on this entire thing, I’m extremely excited to see where this has already gone and where it is probably going to go in the future.

  10. Splinter says:

    It’s always really cool to hear that the way to get what I want is to stick with the awesome that I already am, so I’m glad you said that. Thanks, Cy. On the other hand, it makes me sad when people tell me I have to become an even more awesome version of myself to get what I want because I’m not actually awesome enough already. But I guess I have to thank you for that too because it’s true. So thanks, Cy.

  11. Tobias says:

    As much as I like this advice for the advanced stages of self-development, you will have to admit that it contradicts Mark’s Models in that you have to love yourself “warts and all” to begin with this journey.

    • Mark says:

      I don’t think loving yourself “warts and all” and wanting to change are mutually exclusive.

      We all have flaws, the sooner we accept them and appreciate them, the sooner we can fix them.

  12. AJ says:

    Superb advice mi compadre!

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