~Ralph Waldo Emerson
Over the years, this has been shortened to "Be yourself, but be your best self."
My bishop used this quote over the pulpit a week ago last Sunday. It rings true to me. I have a friend who stopped coming to church for a while because she felt like she didn't "fit the mold", the stay-at-home, minivan-driving, soccer-mom mold. She didn't think like everyone else.
She didn't feel that she would be accepted into the fold if she was herself. At the time, I really had no response for that.
I remember feeling that way when I was younger. I felt excluded so I did what I saw others do--I tried to wear expensive fashions, uncomfortable shoes, and pantyhose that would never fit. Let's face it--my feet were too wide for cute shoes, and my legs were too long for pantyhose (back then there was not the variety of sizes there is now). I didn't fit anyone's mold.
One of the benefits of growing older, for me anyway, is that I really don't care about that stuff anymore. I dress for comfort. My personality and behavior are still odd, but I really don't care.
I've come to realize that "molds" are man-made. They certainly didn't come from Heavenly Father or He would've made us all look and act the same. I think most of the struggles we have in this world are because we don't accept these differences in each other, or even worse, we try to make others fit in our molds.
But, and this is the important part, this doesn't give us any excuses to behave in ways less than our "best selves". My regular self can be negative, selfish, or unkind. My best self will remember I can still be me, but kinder and more grateful.
So be happy in being yourself by being your best self.