What does it mean “to be yourself”? Coming from a collectivist culture (Chinese), I found in many cases it meant to break connections with others. Even here in US I still can see that there is a strong tendency of conformity, which makes many people fear to be themselves.
I am a person who is very different in many aspects from majority of population, not necessarily “by choice”. I knew this since I was very young. I have feared, also tried very hard to blend in, until I felt there was no room left for myself. Frankly speaking, I am quite tired of trying to be “one of many”, so I decided it’s time for me to relax, just to be myself.
Why it is so hard to break up with the “others”? The answer can be very complicated but, to simple put, I think it is because by nature we are still social animals, so without spiritual and material support from others, the loneliness is just unbearable to most of us. So based on this understanding, there is an exception, that is, if you are strong enough to be alone, to live alone, not to be afraid of rejection from the others, there will be no reasons not to be yourself.
So it’s matter of how strong you are, in terms of how independent you can be. Those who sacrificed their lives just because of their being different, such as Oscar Wilde, Pyotr Tchaikovsky, and so many many more, were truly strong souls. Today, we entered era of humanism, of individualism, being different is not at all a crime, so there are less and less reasons for us not to be ourselves. However, for those who do not have enough courage to break the connection with other, there is nothing to be ashamed of to admit their weakness, as we all humans, and we all have our own weakness; for those who are naturally “one of many”, I think it’s time for them to understand that those who are different are still just as normal as they are; for those who feel “superior” just because of they are “one of many”, i think they better not to consider themselves “superior”, nor “normal”, but vulgar.