I should note before I continue that I don’t expect these rules to be important or profound to anyone but myself, and I reserve the right to rescind them at any time. That said, rule number two:
What other people say about you is descriptive, not proscriptive. It’s what they think of you, not how you must be. You must set your own boundaries and limitations.
I am a shy, clever, conservative, silly, overweight, nice guy. I am also none of those things.
One of the results of the rise of the internet is a rise in those silly little “what am I” quizzes. You can spend countless lunch hours discovering “what car am I?,” “what city am I?,” “what season am I?,” and, with just slightly more seriousness, one’s Myers-Briggs personality profile (I’m an ISTJ the last I checked). This is all well and good as far as trying to figure out why we do something, but it becomes a problem when we let tests or what other people say about us decide for us what to do. As an ISTJ, for example, I know that in stressful situations I’ll tend to respond with detached stoicism. But I shouldn’t chose to act as a detached stoic, because as an ISTJ I think I must, in those rare cases where my guts favor a more passionate response. I’ve seen too many friends run into trouble with a “this is how someone like me should respond” to a bad personal situation rather than “this is what I really feel like I should do” response. I know I’ve done it myself. Call it false consciousness perhaps — the idea of other’s interpretations of and expectations for you governing your life, rather than you knowing where your interests really are.
This ties, I think, back to rule #1: You are responsible for your own happiness. If you’re too busy behaving as others are expecting you to behave, or behaving to fit some profile of expected behavior, you can miss really important things.