The cool kids like to say, “You do you” as a way of showing they’re not judging and we’re all free to be… you and me.
Yet, have you ever noticed that when you actually do yourself, some people will hurry to tell you just how wrong you are?
You: I really like lime LaCroix water.
Somebody: You know that stuff is horrible. It’ll strip the enamel off your teeth. You should just drink regular water.
You: (blink, blink)
You: I think Taylor Swift is great.
Somebody: Seriously? She can only sing four notes and she should have never covered Earth, Wind & Fire’s “September”. Who does she think she is?
You: (blink, blink, blink)
You: I love Facebook.
Somebody: First of all, they steal your data. Second of all, who wants to know what you had for lunch. And third of all, do you not have a life?
You: (blinkety, blink, blink)
So, “You do you” becomes “You do what I say because I’m right and you’re wrong”.
Kinda icky, huh?
The Somebodies who would criticize your Being You-ness are investing not in the relationship but more in their own feeling of being right. They seek to validate their own viewpoints or to emphasize their own importance.
Don’t be that person.
When you make the space for someone to fully do themselves, you’re giving them a great gift – the gift of real acceptance. Because whatever they’re doing is ok by you.
But, then, when someone’s Being Them-ness is full of hate, or violence, or unkindness, what do you do? Do you suck it up and let them do them?
In a way, you do. But not without honestly saying your piece, such as, “I completely disagree with you” or “That is not my experience at all”.
You can firmly and without reservations do yourself and voice your perspective in the face of hate speech. In fact, you have a responsibility to do so.
When it’s not a high-stakes conversation, it pays to get curious. You might try something like this:
You ask why they like lime LaCroix. Their answer might be, “Because I’m working on my sobriety and I’m substituting a couple of glasses of LaCroix in the evening for a fifth of vodka.”
You ask why they like Taylor Swift. Their answer might be, “Because my mom and her mom are first cousins.”
You ask why they like Facebook. Their answer might be, “Because my aunt is homebound and it’s a good way for us to stay connected.”
All perfectly fine reasons, don’t you think?
They’re doing them. Which is very cool.
And now you know a little bit more about them, and your relationship benefits.
I know what I’m suggesting here is hard. Listening and not correcting is really tough for us human beings. And as a human being, I struggle with this – boy, do I struggle with this.
I’m trying to do it differently, though, by holding onto the idea that when you do you at your very best and I build you up rather than tear you down, we create enough space for me to be me at my very best, too.
I remember that it’s all about building stronger relationships.
Which is what the really cool kids are doing these days.