Wednesday, October 31, 2012

'Be Yourself', a Poem

So in a less-than-sunny mood I seem to have committed an act of freeform poetry. So I thought perhaps I might as well pour this particular bottle of cynicism onto my blog - well, this is my 'Jar of Thoughts', and a surprising number of those thoughts are either cynical or in poem form. So this may be almost topical.
Here we go, I guess. One poem, written by me.

***

Be Yourself

What does 'be yourself' truly mean?

The words are simple.
But what do they mean, upon the tongues
Of those who speak them most?

They mean 'You are not like me.'
And 'I have caught you.'
'You did not act well enough.'
They mean a failure to pretend
that you are just like all the rest.
They mean that you are different.
They mean 'Be quirky.'
They mean 'Entertain me.'
Upon such tongues
'Be yourself' is a demand
that you be different enough to amuse.
But not different enough for questions.
No, not different enough to make them think.
Prune away all habits
All traits that they dislike.
It is 'I will disdain you
if you try to be like me.
But I will not respect you.
Not now or ever.
No matter who you become.
Be only as much self as pleases me.'

'Be yourself' is nothing less than a chain.
It is a leash.
A trite phrase used to control.
And we are expected to be grateful
for this kind permission to have selves of our own.

But not to show it.
Not unless it can be performed
for an audience to enjoy.

If your self is outspoken
or does not understand
the way of things
that self must be cut.
It must be trimmed and shaped
until you will cause no discomfort.
Until you do things right
and say things right.

They will grease the mould with your tears
until you fit into place
and then chide you for weeping.
Don't you know it makes them uncomfortable?
Be more funny.

'Be yourself' means that you did not pretend
hard enough to be normal.
You did not make up a self
that they could comfortably ignore
and now must make up another
they can spectate upon instead.

It means 'Create a self
I will like better
one you can act at more convincingly.'

I have a self.
It is mine.
I do not need your false permission
to be that self.
Take your clich├ęs and go.

Why should I entertain you
when you have not earned any part
of the self I call my own?

1 comment:

  1. Yes, yes, yes! I don't get that very often anymore, but I certainly did when I was in junior high. My favorite band has a fantastic song about this very issue called "Be Natural": http://www.songmeanings.net/songs/view/3530822107858491039/

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