It’s really easy to act like a doofus when you are “just being yourself.” Trust me, I know from personal experience.
There’s something to the idea of being entirely your own man and not caring how your actions reflect in the minds of others. But unmooring yourself from any larger sets of values or traditions can give you license to act in some really stupid ways, especially if you’re a 20 year-old. I’ve had a lot of cringeworthy ideas about behavior, dress, decor, etc. over the years as a result.
Think instead about how you might act if you really *were* “carrying the family name,” or representing some other group or larger tradition that you respected, loved, aspired to. You might work harder, speak more forthrightly and eloquently, treat others with more consideration, dress better, lead more firmly, and project more authority.
Acting *as if* you represent a noble tradition ennobles you. You take on the attributes of that thing, even if you wouldn’t be able to carry those attributes on your own steam. When you allow yourself to behave as if you represent all men, you will have more reason to carry the masculine virtues with you. When you allow yourself to behave as if you represent all Americans, you will have more reason to carry the best of American virtues with you.
P.S. It’s also easy to act like a doofus (or worse) when representing something, especially if that thing is some ideology. So be wise.
Photo by Viktor Talashuk on Unsplash