What Is Holding You Back From Being Your True Self?

By: Zoe Samuel

What Is Holding You Back From Being Your True Self?
Image: David Cabrera/Moment/Getty Images

About This Quiz

"Be yourself" is both the truest and most annoying advice a person can give. For many people, being themselves is a great way to get in all sorts of trouble. Be yourself at work, and maybe you'll be fired or lose a client. Be yourself around your crazy uncle who used to be in a cult, and you might get a very long lecture about how you are certainly doomed in the hereafter and/or the government is controlling your brain. Be entirely yourself in front of your neighbors, and they might think you are absolutely bonkers. Clearly, therefore, it's advice that needs a qualifier: be yourself when you can.

The other part of the conundrum is that your true self contains multitudes. You might be a fierce go-getter at work, but your nurturing and soft side comes out around your kids. Maybe you are very uptight when it comes to large groups, but in a more intimate setting, you are full of joie de vivre and sparkling wit. If you're quite young or you've been in repressive environments much of the time, you may not have had a chance to fully explore who you are, so you're being told to do something you aren't prepared to do.

Still, being yourself is very freeing when you do get the chance, and it's worth looking into what it is you need to be able to do it, at least some of the time. Do you need more experiences? Safer people? To resolve a specific issue? It's time to identify the leading obstacle in your path!

Do you constantly worry people won't like you if they get to know you?
Most of the time
Oh, I know they won't.
All the time!
Well, now I am!

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How often do you use humor as a defense mechanism?
Constantly
Never
Often
Sometimes

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What age did you figure out what you wanted to be when you grew up?
5
25 or older
14
I haven't yet.

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How supportive are your family of your dreams?
Mostly
Not at all
Somewhat
Totally

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Were you expected to get good grades as a kid?
No
Expected, no. Required? Oh, yes.
Yes, all A's all the way!
They expected me to do well but didn't make a thing about it if I didn't.

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What's your current boss like?
They're a great boss and very inspiring.
They're a bully and possibly an idiot.
They are really intense and demanding, though not a bad person.
They are nice enough.

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Did you ever have a success that you didn't feel was particularly earned?
Yes, many times
No
Once or twice
Nothing of significance

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What is your worst fear?
Ruining everything I've built so far
Never breaking free of my current situation
Letting down everyone who ever believed in me
Drifting forever

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What topic do you share most about on social media?
My friends and family
Self-help
Cat videos
Politics

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Have you ever moved state or country for work or study purposes?
Yes, once or twice
I would never dare!
No
I will soon!

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How often do you do something on impulse?
A healthy amount
Never
Rarely
All the time

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Do you look forward to seeing extended family at Thanksgiving?
Mostly
No, I dread it, but I still go.
Not that one aunt, but otherwise yes
Sure!

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If someone tries to bully you, do you tend to stand up to them?
Yes, usually
Nope
I don't crumble under it but I don't fight back either.
Depends on the situation

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How much of a worry is burnout from all the things you're trying to do?
Very serious
Not too bad
I feel OK about that.
Oh, it's not a future worry. It's happening.

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Are you something of a job-hopper these days?
No, but my portfolio keeps expanding.
Nope
I wish!
Yes, constantly

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What TV show is your safest space?
"Will & Grace"
"The Walking Dead"
"America's Got Talent"
"Girls"

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Which public figure do you think is most authentically themselves?
Billy Porter
RuPaul
That guy from Duck Dynasty
Elizabeth Warren

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What is the worst thing that could happen if you were really yourself?
Everyone would realize I am just making this up as I go.
I'd be homeless and jobless in five minutes.
Everyone would laugh at me.
Nothing. Huh.

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Is there anyone in your life around whom you feel completely relaxed, even when you aren't at your best?
My boo only
Nope
My mom
My BFFs

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What activity makes you feel like you're being your best self?
When I present work I completed and people like it
When I take care of a dog. They're so non-judgmental.
When I write stories that only I will read
When I work out

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If you found out people at work were talking about you behind your back, what would you assume they were saying?
That I only got the job because I knew someone (I did)
That I'm about to be laid off
That I should be laid off
I'm not going to stick it out here.

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Do you have any major privileges in your life like an affluent family, really good connections, etc.?
Yes, millions of them. I'm even good-looking.
Yes, but they all come with strings attached if that counts.
None at all. I am flying without a safety net here.
A few, but not loads

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How does the prospect of going to a networking event make you feel?
Excited
Terrified
Physically ill
Curious

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Did you get a lot of chances to play as a child?
Yes, many
No, almost none
Only a few
So many!

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Children tend to love making up and writing stories, but grownups don't so much. At what age did you stop?
I still do it and I publish them.
Age 8 or 9
I still do it, but nobody gets to see it.
Around age 12 or 13

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How much do you buy into conventional, socially-defined beauty standards?
A healthy amount
Way more than I should
Quite a bit
More than I should, but not an insanely unusual amount

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Are you perpetually trying to change something about your body?
No, but I do try hard to stay in shape.
Yes, I have been on a diet since I can remember and I hate it.
No, but I keep saying I will.
Not really

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How much agency do you feel like you have about how your life goes in future?
A lot, and that's actually weirdly stressful.
None, and it's horrible.
I alternate between thinking it's too much and not enough.
More than I can handle, that's for sure.

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If you were really in life-and-death trouble — say, arrested overseas by corrupt cops and in need of $500 cash to bribe your way out — who could you call and know they'd figure out how to save you?
My boo, who would come and be nice about it
Nobody — and if my family found out, they would just roll their eyes!
My parents, who would come but be horrible about it
My community, who would pick whoever was best able to come and then make lighthearted fun of me for years

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If you were truly yourself, what is the best thing that could happen?
I could do what I'm doing but also sleep better.
I could find people who really love me for who I am.
I could achieve my potential.
I could find what I am supposed to do with myself.

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You Got:

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