The Instigator
Pro (for)
4 Points
The Contender
Con (against)
0 Points

"Being Yourself" isn't a real thing

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Voting Style: Open Point System: 7 Point
Started: 11/16/2013 Category: Society
Updated: 3 years ago Status: Post Voting Period
Viewed: 1,891 times Debate No: 40681
Debate Rounds (5)
Comments (1)
Votes (1)




People talk about "true self" and "being yourself" and "one's true passion".

But these things aren't actually real.

Take a scenario a person decides he has no passion for what he's worked his whole life on and switches to a different path. He says he's realized what his true self wants and he goes for that.
Contrast that with the extent same scenario except he doesn't make this choice and instead sticks with what he was doing.
Contrast that with him switching to something entirely different from the first part.

If in all these cases if he never reaches a point where he "realizes he made a mistake" and "changes his mind" and if he always holds to himself that he made the right decision then it will be said by himself and by people who believe he is being sincere about it really being himself that he was being "his true self".

And if he changes his mind or expresses regret then it won't be.

It's also possible people will observe body language and the like and decide based on that rubric that they don't believe he is "being true to himself". But even here what if they decided otherwise? What if everyone suddenly changed their minds about what body language meant what(including the person in question who is being observed) in judging this and consistently held to this way of looking at things? Then, there is nothing in the world that would make it wrong. The meaning of body language is entirely dependent on what meanings we give to it. It would be an impossible feat to get everyone in the world to start habitually according different body language meanings different from what we use now, but if we did this successfully and we successfully maintained it then it would become real at least as far as becoming the new social norm to interpret things in a certain way (and this would likely confuse people not going along with it or not understanding what is happening who had defined themselves as happy but are now being told by everyone that they are not or vice versa).

This could also cover personality traits. If a person makes a careful study of a certain personality type (say by watching movies), puts it into practice, and they keep it up their entire life what is there that would stop that from being real? Nothing. Unless we are assuming they are reverting back to some other personality state in private but if they don't then there's nothing that would make it fake.


"Be yourself; everyone else is already taken."
; Oscar Wilde

Good afternoon ladies and gentlemen, the reason I started out with this quote by, writer and poet, Oscar Wilde is because it summarizes the negative case which I will be arguing. I, Martin van Pul, firmly believe that "Being Yourself" is a real thing.

Before I get to my own arguments I want to direct some questions to the affirmative side, I hope these do not remain ignored.

-What led the person in your initial scenario to work on something he has no passion for?
-What is passion?
-What led the person to change his mind?
-Can you please clarify what you said in the large paragraph about body language?

I must point out that my opponent failed to describe what he means by "Yourself". I will therefore take the time to do so myself since I think it is necessary for the debate to be clear. According to the Merriam-Webster dictionary "Yourself" means, your normal, healthy, or sane condition or self. Following this definition when person A asks person B to be "himself", he is simply telling him to act normal. Since being normal is definitely and unarguably a real thing the resolution is false and "Being Yourself" is a real thing.

I will now bring forth my own argument.

I believe that the choices we make are what define us. This belief is not an exclusive club to big, live-changing, choices. It includes our decisions for our daily routine, what we eat, what we wear, where we go. Every choice one makes is part of what you are. Therefore, in the scenarios my opponent provided where the person made different decisions I claim that every decision he would made was part of him "Being Yourself". When a person tells you to be "Yourself" what he is really saying is, make a decision that you will be happy with.

I am looking forward to see the response of my opponent and to attempting to clash with what he thinks of next.

I remind you that the statement: "Be Yourself" is a real thing because
A. It refers to the request of being sane, which undoubtedly is a real thing, Or,
B. It refers to the request of making a decision that makes you happy, this request, as well, is a real thing.

Thank You
Debate Round No. 1


Con is misdefining "Being yourself".

You may have a kid in high school who decides he wants to dress more like the rich, popular kids to gain their favor. This is actually a very smart strategic move if you want to have better networking in the future. His friends and even his parents may say he isn't "being himself".

This clearly has nothing to do with being sane.

Another point:

Being sane is not undoubtedly a real thing. "Sane" is a label that is applied to behave that society approves of. If we lived in an Aztec society we would probably categorize the behavior of trying to avoid being sacrificed to the Gods as "Sacrifice Aversion Syndrome" and would claim it was objective based on what ever neurological correlations we found.

Science lacks the authority to define aspects of "ought", they can only determine "is". In a different sort of society mental states considered "insane" may be considered "sane" and vice versa.

" -What led the person in your initial scenario to work on something he has no passion for?"
He lost his passion
"-What is passion?"
An abstract word that human beings accord to certain behavioral observations and then mistakenly think it has meaningful existence independently of this. The existence independently is typically what people are refering to when they speak of "one's true passion".

"Body language" is what people observe to judge and categorize other people's internal states which too often are really just categories that correlate with behavioral outcomes and don't actually have any independent existence from that.

Is "happy" a real thing?

In so far as one may justly speak of being happy or not as one's prerogative it is. But is it real beyond that? Real the way a chair is real? Real as in independent from anyone's opinion?


If a person who is really unhappy continuously defines themselves as "happy" not just on the outside but in their internal monologue what exists to make the person wrong? Other's characterizations? Perhaps, but if they're really good at acting happy too and they do act happy then what is there to make them wrong? Nothing.

"Happy" is a label humans invent to "give themselves meaning" and "give ourselves meaning" boils down to "Regulate everyday behavior".


Thank you for taking the time to respond to my contention. Before I continue to clash my opponents claims and defend my case I will recall the points that have been made up to this point at their current state.

In round 1 my opponent claimed that: a person who changes his mind is not "Being Himself".
my opponent also claimed that one's body language can change and therefore the image of "Himself" changes and therefore the statement to "Be Yourself" cannot be true.

In round 1 I defined Yourself: to be your normal, healthy, and sane condition. I defined it so that my opponent and I are speaking about the same thing and because he failed to do so. My opponent during round 2 claimed that I defined it wrongly. However he failed to define it in a way that would please him, therefore I see no option but continue with the initial definition and kindly ask my opponent to clarify what he means with "Being Himself"

In round 1 I claimed that being yourself is a real thing because it is simply a way of asking someone to be sane, normal (referring to the normal state of the person asked to be himself). My opponent attempted to clash this by saying that: sane is different everywhere. I want to apologise for the misunderstanding. I assumed that it would be clear that the standard for normal is set by the person asked to be himself. Therefore my opponent's clash is invalid and it is possible to be "normal". My claim still stands.

In round 1 I also claimed that being yourself means make choices you are happy with. My opponent clashed this by saying that: happy is not a real thing. Not as real as a chair. I do not understand how this makes my claim invalid. We all realize when we are happy right? We all know what makes us happy right? Being happy IS a real thing. And it is possible to make decisions that make us happy, therefore asking someone to Be Yourself is real.

In the 2nd round my opponent argued against my statements of the first round but I have already pointed out why his arguments are invalid.

During my second round I want to ask you, the judges, audience, and y opponent to consider an occasion where someone told you to just "Be Yourself". The most common example would be when you asked your mom how to behave on your first date. Maybe that was just me? Either way. My mom knows me, and advised me to just be myself, or in other words, be who I always am.

I argue that telling someone to be themselves is a real thing because people who know you want you to be the person that they like. In a way, "Yourself" is the set of characteristics that define you. Therefore being yourself is a real thing because one can be true to themselves.

To end my speech I want to request my opponent to be clearer with what he has to say during the 3rd round so that the judges, the audience, and I will have an easier time understanding you. Please write down in bullet points why you believe It is not a real thing. Nonetheless, good job until now. I am looking forward to hearing more from you

Thank you.
Debate Round No. 2


"I assumed that it would be clear that the standard for normal is set by the person asked to be himself."

If "being yourself" is just what ever you define it as then it's meaningless. Then it's not a thing and no one can ever speak objectively when they say someone is not being theirself.

"I claimed that being yourself is a real thing because it is simply a way of asking someone to be sane, normal (referring to the normal state of the person asked to be himself)."

So to tell someone "be yourself" is to tell someone "stick to your prior behavioral pattern, even if you've realized that a new, completely different one would make you happy or would help to further yourself along to something of overriding importance to you"?

So "be yourself" really means "enslave yourself to your past habits and routines". As well not every little aspect is going to be given the same weight by the person saying to "be yourself". Hence, "being yourself" is a social construct.

It is better to define one's identity in terms of what one wants to achieve and then to construct everything around that basis rather than to enslave oneself to a self construct.

"We all know what makes us happy right?"

I think of it this way. I know what things I define as "happy", more specifically "happiness" is what I want to achieve and those things I know are leading me in the right direction. "make me happy" that sort of thinking is slave thinking. It implies that something external has to make me happy that I can not define happiness myself and experience it. By conceptualizing the responsibility for defining "happiness" with me I may redefine it if my goals taken together suggest I should change.


MartinvanPul forfeited this round.
Debate Round No. 3


MasturDbtor forfeited this round.


MartinvanPul forfeited this round.
Debate Round No. 4


Con has abandoned this debate.

Vote Pro!


MartinvanPul forfeited this round.
Debate Round No. 5
1 comment has been posted on this debate.
Posted by Strycora 3 years ago
I'd take you up on this.
1 votes has been placed for this debate.
Vote Placed by funwiththoughts 3 years ago
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Total points awarded:40 
Reasons for voting decision: FF.