“Be yourself” is not Good Advice
That is not good advice.
Well, at least not when it's usually given. What should I write about? Be yourself. What should I say in the interview, on the date, for the presentation or video? Be yourself.
The shortest silver bullet advice in history and the one that gets thrown around the most (if you exclude the answer to “should I do this?” which is normally “no” and usually correct).
It’s just so frustratingly vague. Which self should you be? When someone is in the position to ask for or receive advice to which “be yourself” is the answer it shows they don't yet know the answer (at least in the area they are asking about).
Before I am harassed for being obtuse, let me explain that I know what the meaning of the saying is. I understand that it is: to do what you want and need to do without compromising or giving up what it is that makes you want to do so. But there it is, the advice that those who are asking for need; to understand more of who they are first. Be yourself is only good advice if you know which self you are attempting to be.
Before I started my blog I asked myself a few questions* (which also helped in developing my mission statement):
1) Why blogging?
2) Who are you writing for?
3) If you could choose any (3) creative outlets would this be one?
4) What do you expect from blogging?
5) Where is the value?
Answering similar questions can help you form your ideas on “why should I [fill in the blank]?” which in turn will help you understand the “be yourself” advice clearly.
This isn’t new advice or a breakthrough idea. However, it's one that I didn’t stop and use before making decisions various times in my life (sure I’ll go to school for political science). If instead of “be yourself” I tried figuring out which self I was attempting to be in the first place then I would have had a much clearer direction early on.
This is me being myself. Get out in the world to do something but beforehand find out which self you are doing it for. There is no one stopping you.
*I still have the paper I wrote the questions on