One of the most well-meaning but useless pieces of advice that many of us have received and that many of us have given (come on, hands up) is the recommendation to ‘just be yourself’. They’ll love you, we add. Of course you’ll get the job. Of course your date will like you. Of course you’ll get on with the other kids/your prospective in-laws/your new workmates. Just be natural. There’s nothing to worry about, you’re great!
The urge to be our authentic self is a sound one, particularly considering the barrage of examples of fakery and fraudulence which we face every day. Now more than ever, perhaps, we value what is genuine, sincere, authentic, and want to be perceived as such in the way that we present ourselves and in our dealings with other people. However, strange as it may sound, being authentic does not mean that you have to be consistently open and honest, or that you have to behave in the same way to everyone.