“What you have to do in politics and show business is be yourself…I had an easy job [Hosting The Apprentice]. All I had to do was be myself.”—Donald Trump talking to Harvey Levin on OBJECTified: Donald Trump.
It’s hard to be yourself…at least if you’re self-conscious…
Especially if you care what people think of you…
Especially if you’re a religious person who cares about you’re perceived (I hope people don’t think I’m immoral, sinful, lost etc.)…
Especially if you’re a politician.
And a lot of us are politicians in our own way. We want to be liked. We want to be approved of by our peers (whoever they may be). We want to be praised. We want to be designated—some might even say elected—as a good man, as a manager, as a good writer, as a senator or governor, as a “good Christian”…
And yet…we can smell those people a mile away. We may think them but that’s all we think of them.
What about the others? The ones who generate feelings of hatred or admiration (maybe even love)?
Are they self-conscious? Maybe.
Maybe they’ve consciously decided to be bold.
They’re going to say or do what they think in private IN PUBLIC. They may even be calculating in how they do it. They say things they KNOW will ruffle feathers.
So, they take the gamble, say or write what’s on their mind, even in a calculated, pre-meditated manner, knowing it will get people talking in both negative and positive ways.
This type of courage is easier said than done. Because a lot of us want affirmation from those around us. Speaking up might bring outcry, derision, insults, trolling, active efforts to censor you and maybe even death.
But for most of us, it will just mean the death of life as we know it.
But this is the risk of the artist and dissident alike.
Are you brave enough to be yourself?
“Do not internalize the industrial model. You are not one of the myriad of interchangeable pieces, but a unique human being, and if you’ve got something to say, say it, and think well of yourself while you’re learning to say it better.”—David Mamet
*Endnote: Ironically enough, I was very self conscious when I wrote this piece. Thought my style was too pretentious, too flowery, not a true reflection of myself (I’m pretty abrupt in person). But upon reflection, I said Fuck It and hit Publish.