What Is Holding You Back From Being Your True Self?

Zoe Samuel

Image: David Cabrera/Moment/Getty Images

About This Quiz

"Be yourself" is both the truest and most annoying advice a person can give. For many people, being themselves is a great way to get in all sorts of trouble. Be yourself at work, and maybe you'll be fired or lose a client. Be yourself around your crazy uncle who used to be in a cult, and you might get a very long lecture about how you are certainly doomed in the hereafter and/or the government is controlling your brain. Be entirely yourself in front of your neighbors, and they might think you are absolutely bonkers. Clearly, therefore, it's advice that needs a qualifier: be yourself when you can.

The other part of the conundrum is that your true self contains multitudes. You might be a fierce go-getter at work, but your nurturing and soft side comes out around your kids. Maybe you are very uptight when it comes to large groups, but in a more intimate setting, you are full of joie de vivre and sparkling wit. If you're quite young or you've been in repressive environments much of the time, you may not have had a chance to fully explore who you are, so you're being told to do something you aren't prepared to do.

Still, being yourself is very freeing when you do get the chance, and it's worth looking into what it is you need to be able to do it, at least some of the time. Do you need more experiences? Safer people? To resolve a specific issue? It's time to identify the leading obstacle in your path!

Do you constantly worry people won't like you if they get to know you?

How often do you use humor as a defense mechanism?

What age did you figure out what you wanted to be when you grew up?

How supportive are your family of your dreams?

Were you expected to get good grades as a kid?

What's your current boss like?

Did you ever have a success that you didn't feel was particularly earned?

What is your worst fear?

What topic do you share most about on social media?

Have you ever moved state or country for work or study purposes?

How often do you do something on impulse?

Do you look forward to seeing extended family at Thanksgiving?

If someone tries to bully you, do you tend to stand up to them?

How much of a worry is burnout from all the things you're trying to do?

Are you something of a job-hopper these days?

What TV show is your safest space?

Which public figure do you think is most authentically themselves?

What is the worst thing that could happen if you were really yourself?

Is there anyone in your life around whom you feel completely relaxed, even when you aren't at your best?

What activity makes you feel like you're being your best self?

If you found out people at work were talking about you behind your back, what would you assume they were saying?

Do you have any major privileges in your life like an affluent family, really good connections, etc.?

How does the prospect of going to a networking event make you feel?

Did you get a lot of chances to play as a child?

Children tend to love making up and writing stories, but grownups don't so much. At what age did you stop?

How much do you buy into conventional, socially-defined beauty standards?

Are you perpetually trying to change something about your body?

How much agency do you feel like you have about how your life goes in future?

If you were really in life-and-death trouble — say, arrested overseas by corrupt cops and in need of $500 cash to bribe your way out — who could you call and know they'd figure out how to save you?

If you were truly yourself, what is the best thing that could happen?

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