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Just Be Yourself...But try to Keep it to 80% max

*If you are super attractive then nothing in this article applies to you. I hate you and resent your gorgeous face and body.

It’s one of the oldest clichés in the world. Anytime someone shows anxiety, you hit them with the three magic words. “Just be yourself.” I will refer to this bland, useless advice as JBY for the remainder of this article.

What’s my issue with JBY? Well for starters, people just slap it on anything like an unwanted band sticker.

What if the kids at my new school don’t like me mommy? JBY.

I’m really nervous about this job interview today, honey. JBY

Bro, I really want to talk to this cute girl but I’m super nervous. JBY

Some would call this a positive and claim JBY is a universal message that can fit into any situation. They can believe that, but I don’t.

I’ve been a social outcast for a while now. (A blog contributor is a social outcast?! Stop the presses!) I can count the number of non supervised parties that I have been to on one hand. I don’t need any hands to count the parties that I was personally invited to. Occasionally I’ll get the mass facebook invite to a party or maybe someone will tell me about one in passing. But no one has ever looked happy to see me at one of these things; they always look shocked and uneasy.

My emo rant aside, what does this have to do with JBY? Well, that’s how I became an outcast. I am constantly just being myself. I stick to my convictions, I don’t pretend to like people I hate, and I will voice my opinion if I disagree with you. Trust me; I’m not bragging about this, this is just how I am.

I do have self control when shutting up is necessary. I don’t flip out and give my professor the finger for telling me my answer is incorrect. I just never saw the point of pretending to be something I’m not for the sole purpose of getting someone my own age to like me.

But looking back on it, maybe I should have compromised a bit. That kid who picked on me in freshmen gym, maybe I should have laughed with him instead of cursing at him. Maybe we could have been friends. I could have stayed in his house for senior week instead of not going at all. My facebook could be filled with photos of righteous bro sessions, jacked up webcam photos with hot girls, and overall fun times. But alas, it was just me, myself, and sometimes I on Friday nights.

That’s the ugly truth boys and girls. Being yourself is a gateway drug to loneliness. Cool kids don’t want some killjoy at their party telling them they shouldn’t mix all of their parent’s alcohol together and drink it. Hell, even the theatre kids don’t want that guy hanging around. A new sheep is always welcomed to the herd, but you try to act like a goat and people start looking at you funny.

If you want my advice, and I know you do, then conform to whatever point you are comfortable with. For instance, I draw the line at blunt racism, but if a kid wants to call President Obama a socialist, then that’s just his opinion. I don’t have to fight him about it.

But…but…High School Musical taught us that we are all stars. We should love ourselves and embrace our differences because they make us special.

I never said JBY wasn’t a good marketing strategy.  If you are a shallow, narcissistic, d-bag celebrity who wants to sound sincere then giving the kids the old JBY is the perfect sound bite for your interview.

Being yourself in a world full of people is complicated and short sighted because we are all different. No two people can agree on everything and until we colonize another planet we’re all stuck on this one together. So we compromise, follow orders from the leaders, and stick to the party line.

And this isn’t just for the polo wearing crowd; it applies to all social groups.

One of you Goths out there is a gigantic Lil Wayne fan, but if one of your friends ever saw him on your playlist, you would never be invited to hang out ever again! Ever!

Or maybe you’re one of the lucky ones. Maybe you’re one of those people who always fit in. Maybe I was just unlucky. There are always multiple sides to a story and the person who tells it always has a bias. Take my tale of high school sorrow; there are probably a lot of factors that contributed to my exclusion:

1)      Maybe I just had the misfortune of being a smart black male in a society where that is looked down upon instead of celebrated.

2)      Maybe the party throwers just assumed I was anti-social and thought that I wouldn’t want to go to their party anyway.

3)      Maybe I’m just a dick and people don’t want me around so they can enjoy themselves.

4)      Maybe the gym class bully was secretly gay and was so in love with me that he had to keep his distance from to keep his lustful urges at bay.

All completely reasonable explanations.

Isn’t there anything good about JBY?

No! Haven’t you listen to a word I...typed?

Hold on, maybe there are some positives.

I don’t have any major regrets in my life so far. I was never peer pressured into doing something I didn't want to do. And there was never a point where I felt like I lost my self-respect. And if there is one cliché I can agree with, it’s that there are some things you can't put a price on.


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