When we hear “be yourself” we tend to dismiss it as quick as it takes this government to make a U-turn. But if we look at this phrase closely and in our day to day lives, how many of us are living a life that aligns with who we truly are, whether it is online, in our private lives, or at work?
It is very rare to find someone who is always themselves. Having said that, in some instances it can be an act of kindness to not be completely yourself. For instance, when I was a waitress in central London, I remember receiving training to work at a member’s club and the trainer telling us to leave our issues in the locker if we are having a bad day. Harsh? Sure, but it makes sense. Some diners would have been celebrating key moments in their lives, perhaps having saved for months to enjoy their night out and they had the right to enjoy their evening. It is ok to be diplomatic.
What I am talking about is when people are telling you to “tone it down”. Translation: the “it” they are talking about is your personality. I believe this is one of the most soul-crushing things anyone could say to another human being. They are asking you to tone down the essence of your being.
When I coach my clients, I tell them to write down in a notebook the things people in their circle ask them to tone down because this is where their superpower lies.
When I was trying to survive in the corporate world, I would often hear “Rachida, tone it down” or “Omg you cannot say that!” I must thank my lucky stars that I never listened because I wouldn’t be doing the things that ignite my soul today if I had. I left the corporate world with the list of things my ex-employers would tell me to tone down and I ended up turning them into my new paths. “Talking too much" became my speaking gigs, “You are too passionate” became my social justice work and my LLM in Human Rights, and “You are too obsessed with stationery and notebooks" became my Rama Publishing stationery brand.
Never tone yourself down; be loud, be crazy and take calculated risks.