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Updated: May 9, 2023

"Be yourself; everyone else is already taken." -Oscar Wilde

Honestly, I do not know any other way to be.

As a parent I realize that I have a host of people to thank for that, teachers, aunts, uncles, cousins and most importantly my mother and maternal grandmother, they were my two parents. Be clear, I did not get along with either of them as a teenager, but that is standard, no?

I did some crazy stuff as a child but my mother gave me a lot of latitude to be me. My Cruzan grandmother seemed too cold, conservative and represented a colonized culture that did not represent me. I was not quiet. I never saw a stage I did not like nor a person I would not talk to. My mother said that as soon as my eyelids went up, my jaw went down. I still laugh to myself when I think of it and remember my motor mouth self. But she let me talk. When I had had a particularly expressive day and was telling the cab driver our life story, she asked if I could be quiet for 5 minutes. (I do not recall what story I was relaying, but I am sure I had reached the really embarrassing inappropriate point when she interjected.) Being Aries, I saw this as a fun challenge and said I could do it. I sat there and I looked out the window. I thought about how proud she would be of me when I did it. I wondered what the cab driver was thinking and how exactly did he know how to get to our house. We passed Kentucky Fried Chicken and I wished I could see how the Colonel made all that chicken in all those places. (You know you can find that recipe on the internet now! To bad I do not eat chicken.) We passed Mott Haven Tenement Houses, the projects in the South Bronx, where my sitter Nana lived. We were almost home!!! I looked at my mother and said, “I did good Mommy right! I was quiet for a whole 5 minutes!” She put her head down and sighed, “Yes baby you did, you stayed quiet for a whole 2 minutes.” Hilarious! I love that woman. She allowed me to be me. I am blessed. I pass this on to my 3 children. I hope they notice one day.

Realizing that not everyone had a parent like my mother, someone that was not only their advocate but their guide, what do you do if you are struggling to simply be yourself? Consider this. Ask yourself, “How good is trying to be someone else working for you?” You can’t possibly be your neighbor, the one whose house is ALWAYS clean. How could you be that fit, skinny, well-dressed colleague of yours that everyone likes? How could you be that person in the TV commercial, in the movie, on that stage? No. NO. NO! As Oscar Wilde so eloquently pointed out, that person is already taken. They are already being themselves.

What you can do, is look at the aspect of that person that you want to embody. Now you can incorporate that into your life. YOU can have a clean house. It might mean hiring a cleaning service but you can do that. It might mean cooking for people in exchange for their cleaning assistance. You can have clear skin, bright eyes and an infectious personality. You can open yourself to inner peace by allowing your spirit to be itself. While “imitation is the best form of flattery,” it is exhausting!!! I have been a stage performer for years, as both an actress and a dancer. Putting on another persona for even a short period of time is fun, in that context, but it is still exhausting. It is work. However, there is a lightness of being, when you simply are who you are 100% of the time. Think of all the energy you save? I knew so many people that don a new personality in every setting. I have concluded that I am simply not that smart. I would not be able to remember who I was supposed to be and when.

Trying to be anything or anyone other than who you are crushes your spirit and steals your joy. Don’t let anyone or anything steal your joy! Be yourself.



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