I can prove it!
Being yourself can help to improve your mental health and lessen depression and anxiety. Here’s how.
The Pressure to be Perfect
We’ve all felt it. That pressure to look a certain way, act a certain way… So many times in my life I have done something I would never have done if it hadn’t been for wanting to fit in or impress someone. I think pre-twenties is particularly hard now, especially when you’re at school. People are growing up with social media, feeling pressured to fit into standards the media sets. I can almost guarantee that deep down, you don’t want to.
I Pushed Myself too Far
Up until halfway through last year, I was never true to myself. I always found myself acting differently around others, my personality would change slightly each time I saw someone else. It was almost as though I felt I had to be a different person for everyone so they would accept me. That mentality, of course, is truly damaging and I wouldn’t recommend it. Now I understand what people mean when they say if someone can’t accept you for who you are, they aren’t worth it. It’s true! They aren’t.
Anxiety Through the Roof
Once my anxiety worsened I felt more pressure to put on this ‘all is fine’ personality. I felt like I had to be fake happy and not let anyone know I was struggling. In the end, it was too much to keep up with and I eventually shut myself away for a few months. I didn’t want to see anyone, talk to anyone or be social in any way, shape or form. It was like I had broken down and all I had left was the true personality that I didn’t know how to embrace. I felt even more anxious knowing I wasn’t as confident as I had let on. I felt as though people wouldn’t like me anymore and to me, that was a nerve-wracking thought.
Being Yourself and Mental Health
What’s the link between being yourself and your mental health? Well, to start off… the amount of pressure you feel to keep up a certain appearance can only hinder your mental health. Putting pressure on yourself is the worst thing you can do if you’re not feeling 100% stable in the first place. I believe that if you aren’t being yourself you’re never truly happy, I know I wasn’t. We have to remember that happiness is key and if we don’t allow ourselves to act in a way that we feel comfortable, we won’t be happy!
I found that after I would come home from being out with friends I would have that big old cloud hanging over me for a little while. Yep, that cloud was depression. I would come home and feel so fake, I would even tell myself if I was myself around others no one would want me. There was constantly thoughts about relationships flying through my head. I had convinced myself the reason I was single was that no one would love me the way I was, I felt I had to change. Of course, this all led to deeper depression. If you aren’t being yourself, you’re putting yourself down. Everyone deserves to let their true personality shine.
Why are we Scared of Being Ourselves?
There’s a number of reasons we aren’t always true to ourselves. A lot of it comes from wanting to fit in and feeling as though you are different to everyone else. I know that’s where mine came from.
Some people are dissatisfied with their lives and think others may look down on them so want to portray a different story.
Some of us are just so unconfident in ourselves that we feel our own personalities are not worthy of seeing daylight. This can be because of a number of things. If you’ve had your confidence knocked I would highly suggest doing some self-love and self-appreciation exercises to build yourself back up. I can give you a head start on body confidence right here.
Regardless of the reason, one day we all have to accept ourselves for who we are. If you like different things to your friends, if your hobbies and interests are completely different… it doesn’t matter! We’re all unique and that’s what makes us individuals. We are not all meant to be the same!
How can we Change This?
Start small! Embrace your personal interests, do things YOU enjoy and not just what others do. Don’t know where to start? You can read my lovely friend Alice’s post here on what she’s embracing this year. Realise you don’t have to like what everyone else does. I felt out of touch when I started doing things I enjoyed, I don’t drink anymore and hate nights out even though that’s what most of my friends love. I prefer quiet evenings and country walks.
Make new friends who enjoy the same things as you. Making new friends can be difficult and although social media has some big negatives, it’s great for this! Network, join groups and chats filled with people who have similar interests. Arrange to do something with them or just talk about mutual hobbies, it’ll make you feel more accepted.
Stop Doing Anything That Makes You Unhappy
All together. If you’re forcing yourself to do things and pretending to be happy, you’re not being true to yourself. It’s so important you’re open and honest with yourself about what makes you happy and what doesn’t. Make a list of things you’d like to do this year and make one filled with the things you just don’t enjoy.
If you’re doing things you don’t get any joy out of, it won’t help your mental health. You need to do something that makes you smile, laugh or feel good on the inside! It’ll help to lift your mood.
Let People in
Invite your friends to join you! They might find something they love too. Whether your interest is sport, reading, cooking, meditating or anything else, you can always find someone who shares your enthusiasm. Just because you share different interests with others, doesn’t mean you have to be lonely! You’ll find you make new friends along the way.