“What was the best piece of advice you ever received?”
When we are young, pieces of advice are nothing but words put together into a strange sentence. Why should we bother paying attention? At that time, those words seem incapable of having any type of connection with our future path.
But, if we are lucky enough, our memory will, later on, turn that (apparently) meaningless information into something worthy of our attention. At least that’s what we should aim for, otherwise the phrase “See, I told you so” will undoubtedly be heard.
Luckily, I have later understood the power of one of the biggest clichés in the world:
– Bruna, just be yourself. I have nothing else to tell you.
But what does that mean? Which self? Do I get to be three selves?
Am I fake for not feeling like my yesterday’s self? I was able to understand that piece of advice whenever not telling my truth was a risk as if I was betraying myself.
Until that realization, I had been told many times that I should speak more. Be more open. Socialize. The thing is – I was craving for interaction but I felt out of place.
So I only made jokes at home and I only wrote on the notebook I kept hidden in my room.
When I was put in a social environment, I was simply there without ever being present: the less vibrant I was, the more likely I was to be accepted.
For example, whenever I was with my friends, I would notice what made them laugh as if I was preparing myself for my reveal. Whenever I went to the cinema, I was shy to the point where I made my friends ask for my ticket. Because of this, my name started to be constantly associated with quietness. Softness. Or even an extreme case of lack of personality.
On the contrary, at home I was this young girl who grew accustomed to swearing, having a very particular sense of humor, and doing an awful lot of acting. I used to make up characters or mimic people that my parents knew so that I could entertain my family. They would laugh so hard that I got addicted to that feeling.
Being raised with such liberty made me realize that I could assume whichever character I was most comfortable with: if I wanted to be an archaeologist, that would be fine, and if by any chance I would be happy as a painter, my parents would simply tell me to never stop pursuing that dream.
Unlike many cases, I found myself being genuine around my parents and completely dishonest around my friends.
As I found myself evolving with two identities, the urge to love myself made me follow that advice – being me. That awkward, out of place, me.
The process of embracing this metamorphosis made me realize how much being loved by the family I didn’t choose would change me. From a complete lack of self-esteem to a fed ego – a quick journey that I was completely unaware of, until one day when the emptiness of approval had me looking for love. Once again, the advice had the answer:
-Bruna, just be yourself.
So I did.
Existing with my true self was no longer a choice but rather a gigantic need.
Slowly, I had burst into the very thing I only imagined as a child – loud whenever I felt like laughing, funny in the completely wrong contexts, acid in the way I gave out advice, and just overall crazy. At times, quiet. Sometimes, quiet for weeks. But now it became a choice and not my prison.
By seeking my Truth, I stopped being afraid of being unconventional.
Falling out of love with a projection of what I should be, and instead, becoming passionate about the person that I had long met but never took the time to actually get to know, or even care for.
So my advice is that you do that – be your most real version, no matter how strange or tough that might be.