Do not be yourself. Be someone way better.
In my opinion the worst possible advice we could give kids is to tell them to be themselves.
“Be yourself” encourages those with potential to lose their imaginations and dismiss their creativity. They end up unable to conceive of an ideal self. They just settle for who they are, even if that means they must join the other 5.9 billion of the species in the category of: Petty Creep
And as the years pass and they grow pettier and creepier, they can do so with a clear conscience, because after all, they have only followed teacher’s advice: “Be yourself.”
Don’t say it. Don’t say anything that encourages kids to think of themselves as “selves,” as needers and wanters with complex inner and outer realities. Let’s keep the kids naïve, and ignorant of the self. Self-knowledge has no benefits, only dangers.
“Be yourself” suggests the possibility that people could NOT be themselves, which is absurd#, and it encourages a focus upon and resulting curiosity about the “self” which leads to self-consciousness, a disease we have to fend off at all costs. Self-consciousness ruins attitudes and it ruins lives. Let’s save the lives of our kids. Let’s tell them not to be themselves, to be someone way better. Maybe that’ll work.
# When I say to you “you are not being yourself,” I am being very selfish. I am saying that what you have decided for you is not working out for me, therefore change. I am failing to acknowledge the possibility that your behaving in a way which communicates to me a sense of inauthenticity - a sense of departure from what I know you to be - could be a good decision, a new direction, a new self best suited for success in the world beyond me. I am also failing to acknowledge that you not being you could just be part of the pattern of you. In other words, you could be always being yourself, even when you’re not.