To stop pretending to be someone you’re not, see your uniqueness as a strength and stop chasing perfection. Know that some people may not resonate with the real you, which is fine, and put yourself in the right environment — the one where you don’t need to pretend.
Pretending to be someone we’re not is a trap most of us fall into at some point in their life.
Whether it’s because of low self-esteem, adaptive behavior, or fear of not fitting in.
If so far you’ve been someone you’re not, it’s time to change. It’s time to show the world the real you — the only you.
As long as we hide and lie, there is going to be tension, and it’s going to be much harder to connect with the people who would appreciate our real nature.
Why do you pretend to be someone you’re not?
First of all, you want to identify why you, I, and the vast majority of human beings on the planet tend to “wear a mask” rather than showing their true self.
This is important — you want to understand the root causes, the factors, your own thought processes before you even begin to embrace who you are and stop pretending.
So, why do we pretend to be someone we’re not? The possible reasons are infinite, but the following four seem to be especially common.
1. Poor image of self
If your self-esteem and self-worth isn’t optimal, you are essentially telling yourself that you are not enough — that you are not acceptable, that you are not complete the way you are.
So naturally you’re going to try and find ways to look different, to look like someone you’re not. You’re going to pretend to be someone else because you think that someone else is better than you.
2. Need for financial stability
I’m surprised how finances are often left out when talking about mental health issues and self-development. As if money did not affect our behavior and life decisions in any way.
If you think the way you make a living (a job, business, or anything else) could be affected by you being your true self, then naturally you are going to pretend. You are going to hide all your traits that may hurt your reputation, or image, or career in any way.
3. Need for social approval
This is a big one. Human beings have evolved in groups; not much would have been accomplished without us humans working together and building things together.
So we link social approval to survival. Not just pleasure or comfort, but survival — pretty crazy, right? And this interferes with the way we interact with others. If we believe our real self can lead to rejection, to being judged or excluded, then we’ll hide it.
4. Wrong idea of what’s normal
What is normal? How would you define normality? Hint: it’s not what you see on social media. It’s not what you see on TV. It’s not perfection, or anything close to it. Perfectionists in particular tend to struggle with this.
Our own idea of what’s good and bad may affect the way we see others — and ourselves. Who we are may not correspond to that idea, in which case pretending to be someone we’re not seems smart.
Pretending to be someone else: risks
Yes, pretending to be someone else may have helped you achieve a certain goal. Yes, it’s been a comfortable life so far. Yes, you’ve made enough friends.
But… what did you sacrifice for that? Think about it. If you pretend to be someone you’re not, are you not sacrificing the most important thing, the number one priority — yourself?
Also, it’s not like pretending to be someone you’re not is easy. It’s hard, terribly hard. You have to lie. You have to hide. You have to be secretive. Not just private, but secretive.
And that’s going to cause tension. Way too much tension. Pretend to be someone else for years, and you no longer notice the tension. But it’s there. And it hurts.
The irony (and I’d like you to see this as inspiring rather than depressing): by pretending to be someone you’re not, you also prevent yourself from attracting those who would genuinely love the real you!
They are out there. They are looking for someone like you. You don’t have to pretend with them. Stop pretending and you’ll attract those who appreciate the authentic you.
How to stop pretending to be someone you’re not
1. Celebrate your uniqueness
And never compare yourself to others! You are unique, and your uniqueness is your most beautiful gift — to yourself, and to the world. Why would you want to hide it, or change it?
Each of us is special in some way. But as long as we focus on others, we’re going to see what we lack, what we are not. Focus on yourself and you’ll find a million things that others don’t have, and that you have!
2. Accept your imperfections
Literally everything in the universe has good bits and bad bits. Yes, some things/experiences are better than others. But there is no such thing as perfection, or perfect things.
This includes people. Which means, stop trying to be perfect. Because you’ll never be perfect. Accept your imperfections. Better yet, embrace them. Honor them. They are part of you; they make you.
3. Expect criticism and failure
If so far you’ve been wearing a mask, if you’ve been hiding your true personality, outlook on life, ideas, character, and so on — don’t expect everything to be super smooth once you take that mask off.
I mean, it’s not like people around you will call you crazy or anything like that. But do expect a little bit of criticism. Do expect some friends (or fake friends) to suddenly disappear once you show them who you really are. Those are the people that don’t matter anyway.
4. Be your own best friend
Imagine for a second that you are your own best friend. Like, the best, closest friend that you’ve known for over a decade, that you know you can fully trust at all times. Whether there is someone like that in your life or not.
Would you really need to pretend to be someone you’re not with such a friend? Probably not, right? So here’s tip number four — love yourself, and respect yourself, and know that your inner voice will never judge you for being who you are.
5. Know you are always changing
Let’s say you really don’t like the way you are right now for whatever reason. Well, that’s not really an issue. Because we always change. We change every day. Life is about becoming, not being.
So really, who you are right now is a stepping stone. It’s a gap, a link between your old self and who you are meant to become. So why worry so much about who you are? You are… who you are becoming.
6. Normalize being normal
If there’s a perfectionist inside you, punch them in the face. When your ego tells you you’re not as successful as that celebrity on social media, tell them to shut up. And kick your idea or normality out of your mind.
Life isn’t a movie. You are not a character. You are not supposed to be cool, you are supposed to be human. And again: all of us have the good bits and the bad bits. All of us are, in some way, awkward, or weird, or strange.
7. Change your environment
Before you try to “fix yourself”, you want to be 100 percent honest with yourself and identify whether the environment you are in makes it easy for you to be yourself. If it doesn’t make it easy, it makes it difficult.
Do you feel you have to pretend to be someone you’re not with your friends? Boss? Coworkers? Parents? Whatever the case may be, be aware of that. If people around you are not able to accept the real you, perhaps it’s time to change.