Being themselves

I saw a beautiful and inspiring commercial last night, encouraging young people to be themselves. (I missed what it was a commercial for.)

We say this to kids a lot.  “Be yourself!”  I was thinking that it must be confusing, because we also give them so many limits inside of which we expect them to be themselves.  We don’t make much room for the expression of who they’re trying to be.  Often when we say “Be yourself” we mean something more like  “Find a way to be unique within the following limits…” or more specifically “Be yourself as long as it doesn’t disrupt or compromise the [academic] trajectory we trust.”

What if we were to commit ourselves to actually meaning it, fully, when we tell kids to be themselves? Which of our own beliefs would we have to question?  What might they choose and pursue that they are not free to now?  What courage would we have to muster to allow it to happen?  And if we found it in ourselves to truly support them in being themselves, how would we then support them in their own interface with the world?

What might it make possible?