For a few months now, I’ve wanted to write something on the culture behind the concept of “You do you.” For those who don’t really know what I’m talking about, this has been a trending phrase that started as a positive message meaning to encourage people to be themselves and not have to try and explain their uniqueness or quirky personality.
In this context, it’s a great motto; but are we abusing the concept behind the phrase?
The culture that I’m speaking of is the growing complacency with young adults and teenagers when it comes to fixing our attitudes or striving to be better people.
It is inadvertently telling us that we are perfect exactly as we are and don’t need to change for anyone or anything; that we shouldn’t work to improve ourselves. At least, that’s often what people now mean by it.
This kind of subconscious attitude can negatively impact two huge areas of your life – work life and relationships.
No one successful ever thought to themselves, “I don’t need to improve.”
Our academic, work and financial achievements are gained by working hard to improve our knowledge, skills and work ethic, and learning to approach situations differently than what we’re used to. If we are lazy in our studies and work life, and justify this laziness with things like, “It’s just the way I am.”, we will never achieve much.
Refusing to change and adapt our attitudes and habits will also destroy relationships – family, social and romantic.
It is immature to assume that we will find others who love every part of us, and will not mind our selfish, annoying, or off-putting habits. We all have a bad side, and we’ve all been annoyed by someone else’s bad side. Relationships are built on hard work and compromise – and this is a characteristic of love. If we truly love someone, we respect their likes and dislikes (within reason), and adapt ourselves to accommodate for these things (also within reason).
Belief systems evolved from cute phrases such as “you do you” are breeding selfishness and disguising it as happiness. The belief that we do not need to change and improve ourselves is born completely of selfish intent.
Ironically, the happiest people I know are those who understand the necessity of compromise, and who put others before themselves. By that token, some of the unhappiest people I know are those who refuse to change.
If we aren’t changing then we are not growing, and if we are not growing then we are dying.
“You do you” belief systems and lifestyles are not a cure for anxiety or depression either. Doing whatever we feel like, without discipline, consideration for others or wisdom, especially for those already affected by mental illness, will usually only lead to destructive thoughts and actions – damaging relationships and increasing the fear of isolation.
We definitely have times when we need to focus on ourselves and ensure that we are healthy, strong and happy. We do need to stay true to who we are, and we are all beautiful.
Selfish lifestyles and negative thought patterns aren’t beautiful. Everyone struggles with keeping these things is check, and that’s normal. It’s a part of life. But let’s never be complacent with trying to build our character – for our sake and for the sake of the people we love.