Ask Dr Sarah: “What Does ‘Being Yourself’ Even Mean?”

"I see advice on building confidence but honestly I have no idea how to do that."

Do you have a personal problem that you need advice on? KISS is here to help, with Dr Sarah, a clinical child psychologist specialising in adolescent issues.

“I see advice on building your confidence being about ‘being yourself’ but honestly I have no idea how to do that. Sometimes I don’t know how to act in certain situations whether I should be quiet or chatty or somewhere in the middle. How do you figure out what ‘being yourself’ means?”

Anon, 14

You’re absolutely right that there’s lots of advice out there telling people who might have issues with confidence to just ‘be yourself’! As if it were that easy! I think the general message is to try to be real, authentic and behave in a way that makes you feel comfortable and natural rather than pretending to be something that you’re not.

Some people think that confidence is purely about being outgoing, but it’s more about being comfortable in your own skin and not feeling that you have to conform to someone else’s idea of how you should behave.

If you’re naturally shy and less outgoing, it’s okay to hold back if that’s what makes you comfortable. If you’re happy being the centre of attention, jump in there and talk to everyone if that’s what makes you happy. ‘Being yourself’ doesn’t have to mean that you behave in the same way all the time; you might be more confident and outgoing with old friends and more reserved in a crowd of new people. You’re at a point in your life where you’re still trying to figure out who you are; adolescence and young adulthood are times when you’re still forming views about your beliefs and identity, so it’s okay to feel a little uncertain.

Check out more questions answered by Dr Sarah here.

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