Food for Thought: To Be Nobody But Yourself

A bunch of light bulbs lying on a table, only one is lit up.

“To be nobody but yourself – in a world which is doing its best, night and day, to make you like everybody else – means to fight the hardest battle which any human being can fight; and never stop fighting.”

– e.e. cummings

In a world that says we must compare, correct and conform, this e.e. cummings quote – written decades ago – has, surely, never been more relevant.

There’s so much pressure for us to look the same, act the same, be the same.

Sometimes it’s hard to assert our uniqueness because we risk rejection.

But there’s such power in being nobody but ourselves.

If only we’d take the time to know ourselves deeply.

If only we’d take heart in our strengths and our foibles.

If only we’d take up the fight for our individuality.

Instead, we often fall into the trap of comparing ourselves to others, then trying to change ourselves to fit in.

It’s understandable: the desire to fit in is human nature, but it’s no good if the price of belonging is our integrity.

The very thing that makes us different and interesting and ‘us’.

Rather than allowing the world to make us like everyone else, can we get comfortable with who we are and find the courage to show ourselves?

Who knows?

It may be the hardest battle we have to fight, but it has to be worth fighting for.

©️ Julie de Rohan 2020.

20 thoughts on “Food for Thought: To Be Nobody But Yourself

  1. Reblogged this on Notes and commented:
    oh my my…. Julie just dropped the mic after saying these awesome words to call upon our unique selves and leave the “conformity” culture around us.

    Liked by 1 person

  2. Agreed! It’s taken me a long time to know myself, and accepting and loving myself doesn’t always come easily, but when it does, it is such joy 🙂

    Liked by 1 person

    1. That’s so great to hear, Karen, and I relate – it can be such a challenge just to be OK with who we are when so much of our culture says we should be like others, but it’s so empowering when we can. Good to hear from you, I hope everything is well with you.

      Liked by 1 person

      1. All is well here in our day-to-day home life, the bigger picture is more disturbing by the minute it seems. We’re trying to find ways to help those most harmed by the virus and the police brutality, otherwise it feels so hopeless. Part of accepting and loving myself has been recognizing when I’ve been blind to – or even benefited from – injustice before and how I need to keep challenging myself to do better. Hope you’re doing okay, too. Connecting with you from the other side of the pond reminds me we are all in this together – be well 🙂

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      2. I think we all need to keep challenging ourselves to do better, Karen – I know I need to. As you say, otherwise it feels hopeless. My family and I are all OK over here and in an extremely fortunate position, compared to many. I’m grateful to be able to connect with you too at a time like this when the world is in such turmoil. Stay safe and well.

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  3. Thank you for sharing!!… as one grew up one was constantly reminded of how one should be, how they should act, think and believe… many grew up in a social environment that made it difficult to follow their hearts desires, not that of others… believe technology is helping many to be able to be who they are and what they believe unlike in the past by connecting with other folks… 🙂

    “Confidence is knowing who you are and not changing it a bit because of someone’s version of reality is not your reality.” Shannon L. Alder

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    1. It’s hard to work out who you are if you’re not encouraged to be yourself growing up – it can feel like you don’t fit in. You’re right that technology allows us to seek out others who feel the same as we do. In that way, we can find our “tribe”. Good to hear from you, Dutch, hope you’re safe and well.


  4. As a fat woman who is not afraid to be seen or to own her beauty, I get a LOT of response from complete strangers – some who try to shame me via my body (this happens mainly online), and others, many others, who stop me in the streets with compliments. My sisters laugh about it and roll their eyes but I’m sure that people are mostly started and maybe confused that you can be both, so they go out of their way, interrupt my conversations, run in the wrong direction, shout in the street. It’s strange but I am so over living for anyone else’s opinion.

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    1. I’m always amazed how some people think it’s OK to comment on others’ bodies. Regardless of whether their judgement is negative or positive, it’s still a judgement. Also, apparently there’s an unwritten rule that if you’re a woman you’re not supposed to feel OK about your body, especially if it doesn’t match the cultural “ideal”. I’m so heartened to hear you defy that rule, Jay, we need a lot more of that and a lot less shame. Many thanks for sharing your experience – I hope others will feel encouraged by it.

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