According to Oprah Winfrey, in order to succeed "you have to be 100 per cent of yourself". In other words, don't try to be someone else.
I have my doubts about the 100 per cent characterisation, in that we are all inclined to imbibe instinctively some of the character traits of other people. However, I fully understand her point of view. I take it to mean that we should not make a conscious effort to be someone else.
I have always been fascinated with Polonius's advice in the Shakespearian play Hamlet. He states: "(Above everything) to thine own self be true." Therefore, be yourself by creating your own identity. According to George Bernard Shaw, the great British playwright: "Life is about creating yourself."
There is nothing wrong in having a role model, that is, someone you can look up to and emulate, but you should not try to be an exact replica of that person.
It is extremely disconcerting to see how gullible young people are in their hero worship of out-of-control pop singers, movie stars, sports players, and others in public life. Many young people, without an identity of their own, tend to fully copy the lewd gyrations of entertainers, the vulgarity of movie stars and the disgusting debauchery of sport heroes. After a while, youngsters become so saturated with the outrageous behaviour of these so-called heroes that they tend to become exact replicas of them.
My advice to young people is this: Try to build your own identity and be steadfast in your convictions. Don't be swayed by every passing puff of wind. Remember that when you do not know who you really are your mind can become a fierce battleground of conflicting thoughts. On the contrary, if you establish a clear identity this process can lead to serenity of mind, happiness and success.
There is no doubt that pretentiousness has sinister connotations that can railroad your quest for peace of mind, happiness and ultimate success. The biblical self-righteous Pharisees were so pretentious that Jesus of Nazareth castigated them very severely.
Pretentiousness is as prevalent today as it was during the time Jesus was alive in the Holy Land. Millions of people throughout the world have become hostages to this sinister practice. From ordinary folks to those in high authority, pretentiousness seems to have become an integral component of this universal culture of double-dealing.
We are all aware of many people who go out of their way to display phony behaviour to impress others. The character, Hyacinth Bucket in the British sitcom Keeping Up Appearances is a good example.