Be Yourself or Change Yourself?

There’s plenty of inspirational pablum about “be yourself”. Being charitable, it’s all good and fine and hard to disagree with. But there might not be enough reminders to sometimes change yourself too.

I don’t mean simply allowing yourself to be molded and shaped by your environment while you passively float downstream, avoiding pain and conflict and becoming an amalgam of all the normies around you. I mean seeing tendencies or traits you have that aren’t great, and consciously choosing to change them, or model them after those who are better in those ways.

There are likely a few core things that you should never change about yourself. A few things that are part of your identity, and required for you to fulfill your calling and contribute what you were uniquely created to contribute to the world. But there’s a lot of other stuff that’s up for grabs, and you can choose what to do with it.

“Be yourself” can be an excuse to not work on any of these other things, but instead pretend they are core to your identity. For example, it’s doubtful being unreliable is a core part of your identity and worth preserving. But I have met people who seem to think, “Yeah, I’d stop being lazy and late to everything, but it’s kinda my thing to be unpredictable and show up late, and darnit I want to be myself!”

They bind the tardiness up with a good trait – say their creativity – and pretend like they can’t change one without losing the other.


Be yourself on the core things that really matter. Don’t bend. Don’t cow to others. Don’t be shaped by forces outside your control.

But also take control of all your other traits and tendencies and choose which ones you want to change and shape and make them better.