On Being Yourself

What birds understand (and we don’t)

Andrew Sage
3 min readSep 29, 2020
Photo by Cristina Gottardi on Unsplash

I don’t think we know how to be ourselves.

Not really at least. Society pushes one idea on us and our social groups push another. We’re crushed by the weight of expectations and demands. But who am I? Who are you?

I was looking at a small flock of blackbirds the other day as they hunted for bugs and worms on my freshly-cut lawn. They eyed me cautiously as they searched. Some sat on the fence, keeping watch as others foraged. When I stood, they all flew up and perched on the fence, watching my every move. I couldn’t blame them. They were operating on their basic instincts.

We sometimes forget that humans are animals too. But what makes us different from animals is that animals can be themselves with ease. Meanwhile, as we created and maintained all these systems and customs, we forgot something vital:

It’s all arbitrary.

The essence of existence just is. There’s no grand objective. Life is like music, not travel. We don’t know when our lives will end. The aim of music isn’t its conclusion. The aim of dancing isn’t one particular floor tile. There is no destination. There’s only the journey.

“What makes human beings different from animals is that animals can be themselves with ease.”

Of course, our education system has us thinking that we must constantly chase after the carrot on the stick. They outline our paths: you must go to preschool then primary school then secondary school then college. Always chasing some goal. And when you’ve graduated and joined the working world as a salesman or insurance agent, you have quotas to reach and bills to pay.

You waste your adult life on pointless busywork. On what the late David Graeber would call bullshit jobs. You spend your existence waiting to retire — and missing the point — doing things you don’t like doing in order to continue living to do things you don’t like doing.

You need to find your natural being.

Your body does its thing, naturally. Your hair grows by itself, naturally. Your heart beats by itself, naturally. Your lungs breathe by themselves, naturally.

Photo by Mason Kimbarovsky on Unsplash

As a human, you just have to trust yourself to have bowel movements, go to sleep, and digest your food. If you get caught up, you interrupt the process. When you live more authentically you shed the masks that disguise who you are. You find your natural self.

I don’t mean face masks, by the way. You should absolutely curb virus spread by following the CDC guidelines. I mean the combination of your own socialization, societal expectations, experience, and innate tendencies. Masks that show yourself and the world how you want to be seen and how you are seen. The diluted and digestible form of yourself, one that is presentable and acceptable to mainstream society.The team of contradictory directors that shuffle you along through life.

Our masks aren’t who we are.

Have you noticed the beautiful chaos of the stars, mountains, and trees? Technically, they’re a mess. But they’re gorgeous anyway. Much like a cloud, a human is a beautiful mess. Like all natural things, like a one-legged blackbird or deformed houseplant, we have our defects, flaws, neuroses, and sicknesses. We have our troubles.

That’s okay. That’s life. Be yourself. Be at peace.

Fly free.

You can follow Saint Andrew on Twitter @_saintdrew and subscribe on Youtube where I share my thoughts, opinions, and art. You can also buy me a coffee.

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Andrew Sage

I’m a writer of words, an artist of arts, and a thinker of thoughts. Founder of Saint Who and Andrewism. Follow me on Twitter @_saintdrew.