Growing up as an immigrant child, I always aspired to be more “American.” I wanted to be liked and accepted by my friends and peers, and having a name like “Moon” didn’t help — it often made me feel self conscious and different. Although I was a young immigrant at age 4, I didn’t feel quite American because my eyes were too slanty, nose too small, and, being more of a loud and gregarious person, I didn’t feel very Korean either, especially around my cousins, who carry themselves with traditional Korean manners and dispositions. Feeling insecure about my identity, I struggled with multiple aspects of my life.
We seem to live in a society where we look up and aspire to be like others, especially celebrities, but we reject who we really are. We manifest this in the form of copying, which gives us an illusion of feeling special and important. For instance, when Kate Middleton wears an outfit, it’s always reported that the same outfit sells out in matter of days or sometimes even hours. How can we explain this retail phenomenon? The imitators believe that if they wear the same Kate Middleton outfit, they gain an illusion that they can be more like her, a princess, someone special and elevated. The reality is that even if they had the entire Kate Middleton closet, they would still never be an ounce of Kate. Instead of embracing our differences and uniqueness as a wonderful gift, we constantly fall into the trap of comparing ourselves to others and envying their qualities, so we have an impulse to imitate. She is prettier, funnier, smarter, etc. when in fact we are just uniquely different.
Over the years, I simply got tired of trying to be someone else. And while I tried to imitate others, the funny truth is that I never knew whom I was trying to mimic, so regardless of all my sweated efforts, I was never successful at being someone other than myself. So I made a decision out of unhappiness and necessity to change: stop rejecting myself and start surrendering to who I am. I had to embrace all of me: my flaws, talents, strengths, weaknesses, etc. — all that makes up “Moon.” And what I discovered is that being me wasn’t so bad, after all.
When you embrace who you really are, you make internal and external shifts in immeasurable ways:
Peace and Calm
By surrendering to your being, you gain a sense of peace and calm because you are not resisting what comes naturally to you. Surrendering to your being makes everything you do feel organic.
You gain an internal confidence about yourself and your abilities to meet challenges because you realize that your true self will propel you to succeed in life. Through confidence, you develop an inner compass that guides you through life to make the right choices for you even if it’s difficult. You feel you have nothing to prove to others, so you will go about life in your own way, in your own journey.
Feeling special because you’re unique, you gain a sense of independence that is liberating because you are no longer dependent on mimicking others to validate who you are. You are already and automatically validated by your true self and this brings tremendous comfort.
Passions and Dreams
When you discover your true nature, you can realize your passions and dreams, which gives you the drive and courage to pursue them because you know that you would not be able to give anything else your 200% effort and attention.
When you embrace yourself, you are Zen, feeling comfortable in your own skin. Like oranges and apples, you are no better or worse than anyone else, but simply YOU from the day you were born to the day you will die. You are the happiest by being who you already are and know, so just accept and embrace it. As I will never be anyone other than Moon, so I shall be me.
By Moon Cho, Creator of Ying & Yang Living