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.