Be Yourself: Everybody Else Is Already Taken

Robert Barsanti believes it just doesn’t get any simpler than that.


As Oscar Wilde so aptly put it, the only point of it all is to be yourself. Much to my surprise, after seeing Wim Wenders brilliant film, Pina, I imagined that I would’ve liked to have been a Pina Bausch performer for a decade or so. Pina’s dancers were exhorted to be scary, to embody joy, to risk everything for a true gesture or moment. That’s how I want to live my life!

Her dances are visceral portrayals of emotion, the senses and our relationship to the primary elements, earth, water, stone—the human animal transcending the limitations of words. However much I love the power and beauty of verbal wordplay, the unspoken physicalization of feeling brings me even closer to the ecstatic and the divine.

To dance is to worship. To make love is to enact passion. A poem can be exquisite. A kiss can change a life!

Self expression is multi-faceted. It is wisely said that we are here on planet earth to feel our feelings and speak our truth. The artist is the spokesperson for society, and everyone of us has artistic expression at our command. If you can walk, you can dance; if you can speak, you can sing; if you can write, you can be a poet. Yet, some notion of how to do it correctly, inhibits most of us from daring to show our true colors.

Most of us are comparing ourselves to some perfect version of ourselves, a non-existent self that is always graceful, always eloquent, always in tune with the context, the circumstances, and what is wanted from those we might be out to please. This comparison leaves us constantly failing. In order to soar, we must first be willing to stumble along the way. Taking risks is the key to great art—as Pina Bausch so well understood. Taking risks is the key to full-out living, as well. However, very few of us are not inhibited by the specter of perceived humiliation or judgment. I believe there was a study at Harvard that showed death to be the number-two fear AFTER public speaking. A majority of us would rather die than feel embarrassed or humiliated by a sub-par performance. This is crazy. Who is rating us?

Life as a classroom, where every experience is yet another (blessed or damned) opportunity for growth, is nurtured by curiosity—beginner’s mind, the ability to play at living—to dance like a five-year-old, to sing like a toddler, to write like an idiot savant and to giggle at whatever appears. BE YOURSELF: Everybody else is already taken.

—Photo ||-SAM Nasim-||/Flickr

About Robert Levithan

Robert Levithan is a psychotherapist and writer. Born on the Island of Manhattan 60 years ago, he has had a varied career in the arts and entertainment fields. His book version of "The New 60" will be coming out in April. He currently writes for The Huffington Post as well as The Good Men Project. Previously, he has written columns for OPRAH AT HOME as The Design Shrink, and for As an expert on living with illness he has appeared on Charlie Rose and Fresh Air and is cited in numerous books and articles. After stints in Santa Fe and Caracas he lives in New York City with his yellow Labrador muse, Sophie, a former seeing-eye dog.


  1. Very well said. It’s a good reminder.
    Living is not for the sake of others’ approval, it’s for enjoying it the utmost.
    If you lose others, you’ll find someone else. If you lose yourself, you lose everything.

    Only those who dare to fail greatly, can ever achieve greatly. Few men are willing to brave the disapproval of their fellows, the censure of their colleagues, the wrath of their society. Moral courage is a rarer commodity than bravery in battle or great intelligence. Yet it is the one essential, vital quality for those who seek to change the world which yields most painfully to change.
    (Robert F. Kennedy)

  2. Bravo! Well said. We must all live our lives to the fullest. I intend to enjoy the days as much as the opportunities. Thanks for the reminder

  3. Thanks Robert. I got the same feeling from “Pina” that I got from “Man ona Wire,” the film about Philippe Petit, whom I once met what seems like a lifetime ago. I walked away from both inspired and believing that each of us likely has our own “dance that we dare not do in the real world” and our own emotional “high wire” that challenges us to express the deepest passions of our souls and to risk falling on our asses, which is always a possibility when we are truly out there giving, sharing & expressing our all. It is, for me, the most alive place to be. I believe in magic, so I also believe that we can make our own magic. Bauch and Petit have shown us their way &. I find that they inspire me to keep risking and challenging myself to make my own magic.

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