THE BLOG
05/13/2016 09:45 am ET Updated Dec 06, 2017

What Does It Mean to Be 'You'?

Be yourself.

We hear that all the time now from self-help books to TV shows, in songs and philosophies, indeed, even in the foundation of what it is I've been teaching my students for almost 20 years. Being yourself is all we can ever be. To think we will ever be anything but ourselves is not only pointless, but in circles of psychiatry, it might be suggested to be dangerous.

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But sometimes I grapple with what being "yourself" means. Especially since we do everything in our power to not be.

Is it being myself as in who I am right now in my 40s? Is it not judging myself for who and where I am? Is it allowing the history of who I am and all that I lived be the source of my expression and creativity? Is it accepting my body for all that it can (and can't) do? Is it holding on to the opinions and ideas that have shaped me?

At a relative level, yes, these are all things that make you you. From our mind's perspective.

But the self that you're going for - that we're all after (whether consciously or unconsciously) is that recognition of the deeper self. It's the you that's connected to something beyond your identification with ego self-descriptions. The way we label, conceptualize, judge, control, calculate, and define. These constructs are not who we are. But rather functions that often prevent us from experiencing the true self.

To get to the core of self, one must smash all doctrines and dogmas. Examine all beliefs and narratives. But when you begin to question world orders, you begin to question yourself. That's scary because you might lose yourself (or who you thought you were) in doing so. And who wants to do that? We'd rather hold on to our "principles" which are often thinly disguised prejudices, fears and judgments.

But artists do. Examining who they are is what being an artist means. They get lost in roles. They go to dark places in examining all the potentials of what it means to be human. They inhabit other universes and explore the taboo. They turn worlds upside down and traverse the unknown to get beyond the conceptual or academic.

And that occurs by allowing ourselves to be empty of all the stuff that is constantly chattering away in our heads all the time, and instead become the vessel for a greater self-expression to move through you.

That, then, purely becomes the essence of being yourself.

It's difficult to find who you are when you're told what to wear, how to look, what's popular, what APPs to buy to get more "likes", how to be happy, when to take your vacation, who is the most famous, how to have a perfect bod, who to vote for, and which God is correct.

The great filmmaker, Stanley Kubrick remarked: "The most terrifying fact about the universe is not that it is hostile but that it is indifferent; but if we can come to terms with this indifference and accept the challenges of life within the boundaries of death -- however mutable man may be able to make them -- our existence as a species can have genuine meaning and fulfillment. However vast the darkness, we must supply our own light."

So that's being yourself. Light. You are light. Almost all energy used by all living things comes from light. The sun and all the complex systems through photosynthesis that converts sugars into energy is light-driven. It's all light that sustains us.

For you to be a channel for that fully is you being yourself. No filters, no restrictions. Just reflecting light.

Good to know that's what we are without even having to do anything. Be light.

It's life itself.

Actors in video: Hayley Shaw and Charlie Bewley