Be Yourself...But who are you?

The other night I had the opportunity to watch "A Beautiful Day in the Neighbourhood" a story about Mr Rogers, but not exactly the movie I had expected it to be. The movie is not as much about 'Mr. Rogers' as it about the man Mr Rogers is trying to help Lloyd Vogel. The story centers much more around Lloyd with Mr Rogers being more of the "guru" figure that helps him. As I watched it I sort of imagined a gentle - kinder version of 'Socrates'.

What prompted me to write this entry is the way he 'ends his show' telling children - 'You've made this day a special day, by just 'being you', and I like you just the way you are.' What an amazing message! right. ??  We don't have to grow up to 'be something' we already are something, we already matter !!

What is particularly interesting about the 'just being you' attitude is that it has the pre-conception that you know "who you are". To discover this requires slowing down and reflecting asking yourself some questions. What do you like? and dislike?, the feelings you have about things. What are you passionate about?   Not everyone would agree, however, some people can "just be" and don't focus much on who they are but simply enjoy being themselves. I am not one of these people. I wonder about what happens when you figure out 'who you are' - in fact since we are constantly changing you might ask - is this really even possible?

I feel I know myself rather well, probably better then most people who 'know me'.  I never had one of those stories of taking time off after high school to 'find myself'.  I knew from the earliest age that I wanted to do 'something' with computers, I knew that I had a knack for technology, science, and reasoning..I knew I was a 'geek'.  I take actions purposefully, not to create an image of 'who I want to be' but to hold true to my values and beliefs of who I am - though even after 40+ years, I am still confused by the consequences of those actions, which often turn out a lot different then I would have expected.

"Knowing Yourself" vs "Being Yourself"

I enjoy creating plans, I am a firm believer in the adage 'Those who fail to plan..plan to fail'. When someone else fails to plan (or appears to from my point of view) it fills me with frustration. Particularly when that failure interrupts my otherwise calm & quiet day.  Don't get me wrong, my plans do not always work out and I have found myself in a pickle where my own planning could have been better, but it can be difficult empathising with those who do not seem to plan to what I think they 'should have done'

Knowing yourself, can be a problem in a couple of ways - First it sort of hardwires your re-action to things. I got angry because I always get angry when 'X' happens that's 'just the way I am', and second we tend to project our beliefs and values as "the right way of thinking" and as noted above, this makes it very hard to empathise with others who see things differently.

In this regard -  being yourself means not just loving yourself for who you are, and being true to your beliefs and values, it also means accepting others who are being their-selves. It is this non-binary idea that two people with completely opposite beliefs about something can both be right - something that my very binary thinking brain has a hard time coming to grips with.

The key points that I have learned from this movie (and others like it)

  • Slow down
  • Trust yourself
  • Be grateful
  • Respect others

and most of all

ACT PURPOSEFULLY - It is okay to feel negative, angry, upset, sad - events in our lives (good or bad) shape who we are as well as our choices about how we handle those events which trigger those emotions.

Note: Much to the surprise of my wife I have never actually watched Mr. Rogers, as I child I watched a lot of 'Mr. Dressup' which aired on Canadian TV, and we did not have cable TV when I was younger, based on what I say in the movie though, I suspect I will be catching up on in the near future

For those interested you can find the original esquire article that inspired the movie here

For some deeper reflection, I would recommend -  The subtle art of not giving a F*ck - by Mark Manson
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