At my brother’s request, I recently watched the new Disney movie, Frozen, with him. It was a good movie, but there were some really sad scenes in it that left me pondering the question: what if being yourself meant disappointing everyone you ever cared about?
Don’t let them in, don’t let them see
Be the good girl you always have to be
Conceal, don’t feel, don’t let them know
This isn’t a new idea. It’s been explored in other movies. But it’s something many of us struggle with.
I think most of us have at some point or another had our parents say “why can’t you be more like ____?” I know I have.
I had a classmate who was very focused on what she wanted to do in her future and was very proactive about doing the things she needed to do to get where she wanted. My parents saw her at a university fair approaching and talking to a university representative and later said to me “Why can’t you be more proactive like S? She’s not a nice person, but she knows what she wants and she’s aggressive enough to go out there and get it. If you want to get anywhere in life, you have to be aggressive and manipulative.” (For the record, S is actually a very nice girl, this is just my parents’ impression of her from that one event). Up to that point (and to some extent even now), I had been proud of the fact that I was what I considered to be a nice person. I was proud of not being manipulative, of not being too pushy, of not only being focused on what I wanted to achieve without regard for other people. After a lengthy discussion with my parents, I realised that they didn’t appreciate those qualities. Because of their experiences in life, they both believe that in order for me to succeed, I need to stop trying to be a nice person and start to be more aggressive and more ruthless in going out and getting what I want. While I can see where they’re coming from, I realise that that isn’t who I am.
That was just one example of my parents wanting me to change to be someone I’m not, and more importantly, someone I’ve made a conscious decision not to be. And honestly, the pressure to be a certain way isn’t really just coming from my parents. In many ways, my teachers, my peers and some of the people I look up to have wanted me to change in a way that ran counter to my values, beliefs and character.
Now, I often wonder whether I should give in and change or whether I should remain true to myself. I wonder what if being myself means disappointing everyone I have ever cared about?