Tuesday, January 6, 2009

Why "be yourself" is Sh*tty Advice

High school students can detect the emptiness behind the phrase "be yourself". Our personalities and passions seem so arbitrary. Who am I? Am I someone who is passionate about being a cop? A pianist? A veterinarian? You don't need Jean-Paul Sartre to see the daunting existential problem of making choices without guidance (God). Yet there is a kernel of important advice in this poorly worded catch phrase.

The phrase "be yourself" is articulated better as:

Every human being is faced with the same struggle: being an individual and living in a group. You strike me as someone who is too accommodating and you should pursue some of your selfish desires for happiness. Consider that a degree of selfishness is good. Being completely selfish will lead to misery -but the same is true of total selflessness. You, like all human beings, must find a balance. Some people have to learn to surrender themselves to the groups so that they can play well with others. You have to learn to find the happiness which lies in asserting yourself against the group and satisfying your desires.

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