Contributed by Nick Younger. Check out more of their posts from this summer here.
”Extroverted” is a word I use to describe myself, in my opinion, very accurately. I like to be in large groups, talking, and being in the center of attention, I’m comfortable that way. I’ve heard various adjectives in my tenure as a human being: ”loud,” ”obnoxious,” ”energetic.” I have always embraced these descriptions, despite some of them not being all that flattering.
It could sound like these are insults or some sort of attack on my character. And after spending so much time in my youth worrying about how I am perceived by others, I feel as though embrcing these descriptors have helped me visualize who I am, and who I want to be. I was hanging out with my host sister and all her friends the other day, and I was standing on the sidelines making idle conversation with her boyfriend who I had met several times. They were speaking Serbian, and many did not feel comfortable with their English to cater to my lack of talent in that area. But I did not mind, I was chatting. But once he left, I was essentially on my own. In a typical American party, I would thrive while introducing myself, and cracking jokes to alleviate my own nervousness. However, I was bad at puns in Serbian, and decided to just be there on the fringe. A little later on, one of the guys in the group turns to me and says ”Hey, come on and dance with us, don’t stress, just be yourself.” That phrase was something I don’t hear often as the usual class clown/weirdo character. But, I heeded his advice and joined in. This guy did not know me, and had no idea if by being myself I would just start fighting everyone, but that’s why it made sense to me. You just have to embrace everyone for who they are. He knew I would ”fit in” no matter what I did, so all it took was for me to ”be myself.”
I think it’s an important albeit obvious lesson to take away. Of course, if being yourself is to be an insufferable narcissist, maybe you should work on some things, but for most people embrace it. Don’t change the volume of your voice, or the decisions you make; if that’s you. To wax poetic in the most pretentious of ways: if you’re not yourself, then who are you?