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It’s ok to be you

Otherwise life will be very long (or very short).

The title for this post is from a little book that my mother bought for me years ago – and I used it as the cover photo as well. It’s a small book filled with pictures of all sorts of animals doing weird and wonderful things – one could even say human behaviour – complimented by an affirmations-style story that a mother wrote for her child.

It starts with “sometimes life can be a bit confusing…and it’s not always easy to know what to do.”, and this immediately resonates with me, being a man prone to ‘paralysis by analysis’ and internal conflict. As someone who has had three major career changes, as someone who is a deeply philosophical man, concerned with ethics, morals and virtues, modern society is perplexing to say the least. What is good and meaningful to do with one’s time? Decision-making from today can seem like a disaster tomorrow. Or put another way…

“The road to hell is paved with good intentions.” – Alan Watts

But, “…you can do anything you set your mind to, all you have to do is believe in yourself…and amazing things will happen”, which is a strange paradox for me because I know I’m capable yet I’ve had a devil of a time with self-belief. I’ve also had a hard time recognising and celebrating my achievements, as I feel I’m supposed to do well, so I’m only doing what I’m meant to be doing so there’s no point getting overly excited about things. Can you be humble to a fault? Is it really modesty? Or is it an inability to be satisfied based on perfectionistic tendencies?

Oh, I’m fun at parties, I swear…*wry grin*

See? I told you I'm fun at parties. Photo by Martyn Foster.

“Some things take practice…don’t let that get you down…you are stronger and wiser than you realise and…it seems to take forever to get there…just stay focused…” When you’ve heard these things many times before they can have a tendency to lose their impact, but good advice doesn’t stop being good advice because “I’ve heard it all before” or “I don’t want to hear it right now!” or if I’m impatient with the results I want to achieve.

Now, here comes the fun part where you’re told “don’t be concerned if you are a little different” and “be proud of who you are…and do what feels right to you” and other empty platitudes of how “everyone is unique…and perfect, just the way you are”, which if you think about them for a moment you’d realise how devoid of actual thought they are – and why Instagram influencers love using them. However, I believe this is more my fault for asking for more precision than this book can give or indeed, was intended to give.

We've all been there.

So, it’s ok to be you – I’ve spent the entire post picking apart a book titled “It’s ok to be you” – the irony is not lost on me, but am I just being me? I see as much critique as I do humour in what I’ve written above which belies a man who is still not ok with himself.

As the subheading reads, life will be very long (or very short) if one is not ok with who one is. And as I would like to live the life of the eternal man I don’t wish for it to be in a state of damnation! Like Goethe’s “Faust” I may take nearly 60 years to get it right.

I’ll leave you with a quote I quite like and one in which I feel resonates with me, but how and when it will apply to me, I’m not yet sure:

“Sometimes it’s the very people who no one imagines anything of, who do the things that no one can imagine.”
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