Posts Tagged ‘Judy Garland’

Be Yourself

November 2, 2013

Sounds simple, doesn’t it, just be yourself. It’s advice given when seeking jobs, do all these things and be yourself. But what if being yourself doesn’t work, doesn’t advance the cause? What if being yourself is the hardest thing you do?

Of course, trying to be someone else is harder, is quite a foolish pursuit, a sure fire path to doom and disaster, to failing relationships, feeling utterly fraudulent in everything you do, confusion and some degree of madness.

But, how, in the words of Judy Garland can you “Always be a first rate version of yourself not a second rate version of someone else”?

Judy garland

Ask yourself how well do you really know yourself? How comfortable are you with you? Are you just a reflection of what other people want – at work, at home, in love? Who are you?

Many of the troubles with have with self-hood (?!) is that we are shaped by others, by what they say to us and about us and how they react – smiles or frowns, included or excluded from the party; told you’re somehow inadequate in many varied and creative ways – subtle and hard to spot or obvious and cruel. From the earliest moment our behaviour and sense of self is shaped by others, especially our parents and family, and then our friends; not to mention our physical circumstances – where we live, how we live, society, culture and religion all play a part in who we become.

Hopefully our rough edges are smoothed off by their care and love and we blossom into someone others cherish and someone we quite like ourselves.

Ask yourself then – do you like yourself, are you comfortable in your own skin?

The answer to this will change over time but hopefully there are stages on your travels where you stop and say, yes I am happy, I know who I am and I like it. I had a moment like that around 36-37, when I realized there was no-one else I wanted to be and nowhere else I wanted to be. It was a good moment.

Being yourself can be dangerous, it carries risks of being excluded, of being on the outer, of not fitting in. This can be especially true of those who do not fit the expected norms of their society – being gay is still a big issue for many. But looking different and thinking differently also put you apart from others. Yep, for some this is not an issue and my point is really, if you’re happy and you’re comfortable in your skin and your life then go for it. But if you’re not?


Signs that you’re not yourself

You want to please others more than yourself

You try to fit in but never quite manage it

You let others criticize you more than praise you

You don’t know what you really like, what you would do if you could do anything

You feel guilty/uncomfortable if you disagree with others, if you want your own way

You’re always looking for the next trend, the next change to see if that suits you

You think other people’s character traits are more impressive or worthy than yours

You spend too much time wishing you were someone else

You always put other people’s needs and wishes first


How to be yourself

Spend time alone – just with yourself and no-one else at all, explore the things you like doing – experiment if you need, get used to your own company, see what you like about yourself

List your qualities – good and bad – check with someone trusted if you’re not sure what your best or worst traits are – and then do something about them

Enhance the good bits – develop yourself

Learn to accept the less attractive side of yourself – diminish where you can; but accept and acknowledge your faults as it is essential to knowing yourself

Learn to step back from your situations – ask yourself why you are doing/feeling what you are – because you want to or because you feel you have to???

Accept your imperfections and that change is part of life

Be with people who in Mark Darcy’s immortal words “love you just the way you are”

Develop your own style

Be less worried about what others think of you – be more concerned about what you think of them – why are you wasting your time with people who don’t appreciate the wonders of you?

mark darcy

The only knowledge is self knowledge. The only way to love and accept others in all their glorious mess is to love and know yourself first. It’s never too late to look at yourself and see if you fit in your skin and make sure that you do. (Images courtesy Google Images and Private Collection)

How Many Faces Do You Have?

September 8, 2012

No, I’m not talking about madness or hypocrisy, although we could come close in this discussion, but consider the faces you wear to get through your day. Are you yourself, your true self all day long, how many masks do you wear?


The truth is most of us wear different faces for different occasions – Eleanor Rigby ‘wearing the face she keeps in a jar by the door’ to which Lennon and McCartney then ask – ‘who is it for?’ For years I was bamboozled by that lyric, loved the intrigue of it but now it makes perfect sense: most of us have faces we keep in jars all over the place. Perhaps the jar by the door is where her face for the rest of the world resides?



I work in a profession where you present a certain version of yourself to an audience every day. Yes, teaching is too akin to performing to avoid the actor/audience analogy. By the version of myself that my students receive can’t be too far from the real thing or my lack of authenticity will shine on through and I’ll fail miserably with them. But I can’t be who I really am; it’s not appropriate for them and a bit too exposing for me. Some of me does not belong to the rampant teenage beast.

As I interact with my colleagues it also holds. A level of professionalism must be brought to interactions. I can’t joke, gossip and swear my way through the day. I can, at times, with colleagues who are trusted friends but for the greater hierarchy I must put on a face that approximates who I am, that suits them and doesn’t compromise me. This is hard but necessary. The world of work is a precarious thing, despite what some might like to believe, it is personality driven. I need to work so I present a version of myself that suits the circumstances. When I can no longer live with that version of myself in that workplace, to wit when I have become too personally compromised, I must move on.

It’s one of the eternal struggles: who am I, how should I behave? My lovely baby-girl is caught in this struggle at the moment: a wish to be more assertive, to be less soft. She wants to grow a harder shell, but for the world, not her friends or family. Is that what Eleanor Rigby’s jar holds, a harder shell, a mask as she moves from the security of her home?



We are different people in different situations. It is as it should be. Our true self is something precious and wonderful and it does not belong to everyone. We are cautious with some people, mistrusting and therefore present a resistant face, a position that allows us to wait, judge, consider before we reveal more or even all of ourselves. Remember falling in love, or making new friends – you try out different bits of yourself with them, testing, checking before committing your true self to the relationship.

Animals tell it as it is. Cats mistrust the world, they only go to laps they want to sit in. You may pick it up, but if it doesn’t like you it won’t stay. Thus my beloved came to be the one, as Siska, my fluffy white Persian bucket of mistrust, preferred his attentions over other suitors and to mine! Dogs are the same. My big woof is the gentlest, most divine thing around the house and out walking. But get a post-man or a God-person knocking on the door and his inner beast arises. He’s not that fond of little yappy dogs either and ignores them with disdain.



Knowing ourselves is hard: sharing our true self with others is a fraught business. Think now, how many people can you trust to be absolutely you, in all your glorious contradictions and foolishnesses? They are your true friends. And you know what, they are being true with you too. It’s the only way true friendship and love can endure.




Keep your face in your jar, have a collection of jars, a range of masks; it makes sense. But don’t lose yourself. Remember what Judy Garland said: ‘Always be a first rate version of yourself and not a second rate version of someone else.’ Make sure your faces are authentic versions of you, keep your true friends close and you will remain intact, a person of integrity: someone who can live with themselves and that, my friends, is really quite something. (Images courtesy Google Images and Private Collection)