This is the advice given when a person asks either his friends (both male and female) for advice on meeting women. And yet, like a lot of those Zen chestnuts, this one doesn’t make sense to the uninitiated yet is blatantly obvious to those in the know.
We all want to leave a good impression of ourselves when we first meet someone, that is only natural. Care must be taken, however, not to confuse ‘leaving a good impression’ to ‘acting a different role’. Very often, the person we imagine or wish ourselves to be and the person who we actually are are two rather different things; our perception of our Self may not always agree with the reality and nature of our being. Here being in tune with our natural, inner self is very useful – knowing who we are rather than what the surrounding society or family would like us to be.
As an example, an introvert guy could learn pick-up art, hit the clubs and score women; it’ll probably be a rather draining experience for him since that kind of behavior focuses large amounts of energy outwards, completely opposite to the natural state of the introvert who prefers to focus his energies inward. Regardless, for a day or two, or perhaps even a week, he can keep up the outward-focused energy before being completely drained. And he might even feel really good about himself having scored women, new social connections and been what he perceived a ‘socially accepted norm’, a socially active person.
Yet, he was playing a role and not being himself. He should know that he can’t keep that outgoing nature and outward-focused energy going forever. What would happen to a relationship started on these grounds? We know first impressions are extremely important. We also know that the first few weeks of the relationship lay the groundwork and largely define the course of the rest of it (be it months, years or decades). So what happens if one (or, God forbid, both) is not his/her natural self during that critical period during the relationship?
Does this sound familiar? “I met this perfect guy/girl, we clicked instantly, love at first sight, as if we were soul mates. But two months later he/she changed and now it’s like I don’t even know him/her anymore…”
Any relationship built on the foundation of lies and deceit is doomed from the beginning. Misrepresenting yourself – trying to present a version of You which you think the other person would prefer, even with the best intentions – over your actual Self – is a lie upon which you really don’t want to build a relationship on. Furthermore, if you notice yourself doing that or even contemplating doing that, perhaps it might be better to take a step back, review your self-image and attempt to correct the inner conflict between your Self and your perception of your Self before considering entering serious relationships – broken and internally conflicting people don’t make good partners either.
I’m not saying one shouldn’t strive to improve themselves; but recognizing your natural tendencies and playing on your strengths while recognizing and working on your weaknesses might be better than vice versa. With some practice, you can easily recognize people who act naturally, are in tune with their Selves and the impostors who act a role.
Be Your Self.