This is one of the silliest, if not the silliest, thing anyone can say, at least in the context of social relationships. No one wants you to be yourself, your real and flawed self – they want you to be an actor with a fabulous character and script to add to the drama of their own life. People, in someone’s life, are merely collectables and no one wants to collect junk; they want something valuable and once they get that they can barter to get something even more valuable (you’re just the chorus to their self-promotion).
Well everyone expects the same thing. The good guys aren’t just losers, they’re squashed roadkill. Be yourself – HAH!, no follow The Donald’s example and learn the art of inflating your own image, often with other people as props (and, btw, this is not a political whine, just Trump makes the point so well with his babes props to his ego). But, look, as repulsive a character as Trump: a) he has a ton of supporters, and, b) he certainly gets attention.
Now the philosophy idea of being true to yourself does make sense. We’re not only trained, by social context, to be outward liars, but we’re also trained to lie to ourselves. We are constantly bombarded with social messages, esp. by all the wussy self-help stuff, to create lies about ourselves, how wonderful we are, how great our potential is, how we can be totally choosy and discard all the unsatisfying relationships. We can be fat, stupid, broke and still demand a hunk or babe as a mate. And never, NEVER, “settle” – only the best for you. And it’s a rat race, you can be demanding of others but then you have to play the game too and puff up your own image.
From the earliest age we’re trained, not to be ourselves, but to be what others expect, to follow rules of social convention, to seek approval and popularity from others. It’s the root of getting ahead in this culture (it’s not what you know but who you know, no one will pay attention unless you sell yourself). It’s all sales and at the extreme end, a la The Donald, just con. The more convincing con you are, the better you learn your “manners” and how to sway people, the more you sell yourself – come on, tell the truth, this is what people want.
The genuine you is way too mundane and boring to be of interest to others. Who wants to collect blah but real people. The real you is the leftover that gets sold at 70% in the spring clearance sale. Be the last to be chosen a few times and you get the message. Tell whatever lies, fake passion about things that are cool (but you hate), always be positive and upbeat (nobody likes a tell-it-lie-it-is gloomy gus), be witty and charming, dress well with the right haircut. And never ever talk about ideas (in fact, don’t talk much at all, always be a good listener because the other person’s life is so much more interesting than yours), just talk about people (it’s called character development in boring BBC dramas, gossip, less kindly, but it is what people want to hear). And pump up the other person’s ego with charm and flattery, because, after all, if they’re that cool, then you are too from the reflected glow.
This is the social game, and it is just a game. We are such silly creatures. We’re just trying to follow the programming embedded in our DNA, as it always has been for life, and create new copies of ourselves. That is our only purpose. But homo sapiens is a fairly weak creature, easily defeated by others. So we have to band together, our social hierarchy is the only thing that keeps us alive. And over the variations in hominids the social banding has also been reinforced and reinforces the pattern of our evolution. Now we have virtually no chance as an individual.
So be yourself – that’s a death sentence.