It’s hard for me to be anyone but me. People have told me to tone it done in certain social situations and while my head agrees and knows that there are norms that should be generally followed it’s hard for me to do that. I feel this real compulsion to be me, and to be true to my core. I don’t see anything wrong with that, especially since I am who you get on this blog – an imperfect person who is deeply committed to self-improvement and to doing my part for the greater good. A person who doesn’t make a ton of money, but gives often to charity. A person who freely tells his story so that perhaps someone somewhere can say – “oh, so it’s not just me!” when they are going through a tough time. Sure I may wear a studded belt to work and a way too big beard, but that’s just how I feel.

It’s the idea of me fiercely wanting to be me that got me to wondering why it has become so important to stay true to myself. I know in high school I was barely me. Who is? So I went back a little further and started to think about my dad. My dad was (and still is) all about appearances. Projecting the self-aggrandizing image of the perfect family through to the bitter end was his main focus. He wanted to be praised for his well behaved children, so he was strict to keep us in line. He would talk about how great we were but he almost never told his sons to their faces. To this day he talks of his five sons. There are four of us and a step brother that we have never met. It’s still all about the appearance even long after the death of his first marriage and the less than lustrous relationships my brothers and I have had with him since. Digging a little deeper I discovered that his father was the same way. Funny how cycles can work.

There are obviously problems with maintaining phony appearances at all costs. Some people go broke doing it, buying cars and homes they can’t afford. Taking trips that break the bank. Owning purses that cost more than their rent. And so on. Some people even convi