Does this blog post title bother you? Do you instinctively say—as I did—Yes I can! I CAN be anyone I want to be! When I say that, I feel like a child insisting on being right, on having things my way.
This idea is inspired by a passage and a quote in the book The Great Work of Your Life, by Stephen Cope.
Every man has a vocation to be someone:
but he must understand clearly that in order to fulfill this
vocation he can be only one person: himself.
– Thomas Merton
Each of us can only be ourselves. We can pretend to be anyone or anything we want. But it is the pretense, the striving to be what we are not, that is often so destructive in our lives. Each of us has our own secret destiny, our own gifts and talents; each of us is as individual as our fingerprints. The desire to be yourself, to live a life that feels authentically your own, is what propels each of us to expand into our full being-ness. And it is only when we embrace ourselves, when we allow ourselves to love what we love, and to get lit up by what lights us up, that we can lead a fulfilling life. A life that fulfills us.
There is only one life
you can call your own
and a thousand others
you can call by any name you want.
– David Whyte, “All the True Vows”
Another way to think of this is like an acorn from an oak tree. It can’t be anything it wants to be – its destiny is to be an oak tree. But what shape oak? What size? Where it will grow and thrive? Who or what will seek its shade or live in the safety of its branches? It doesn’t need to know that in order to become what it is already. The oak tree it will become is in that little acorn.
If you were simply yourself, who would you be? Just be who you are. It’s all you can (and need) to be.