Genuine individuality isn't just a matter of style or outward appearance; it emanates from the inside out. Someone has said that your individuality is a singular treasure that only you possess. It may be difficult for you to know exactly what that treasure is right now, but you definitely possess such a treasure, which you share with no one else. Each and every one of you does, with absolutely no exception!
Of course, even when trying to "be themselves", there are many people who don't know what that means. That's quite natural. In fact, all too often what people think of as being true to themselves or exercising their individuality is something they have borrowed or copied from others. That's why, if you think who you are right now is all there is to you, you are very much mistaken. Human beings have the capacity to change. Who you are now is really no more than the starting point for an even more wonderful you in the future.
Telling yourself, for instance, "I'm a poor speaker, so I'll stay in the background," is not living true to yourself. Instead, suppose you earnestly challenge yourself with the spirit to become a person who, though maybe not naturally a good talker, can bravely speak out and stop someone from bullying another, or can speak up for what's right at the crucial moment. Then, by making that kind of effort, your own unique character will shine in a way that is different from those who are naturally good speakers. That will be your individuality.
Your individuality only really starts to shine when you strive with all your might, challenging yourself with every ounce of your energy. It won't if you don't develop yourself. Only through making efforts to improve and grow will your individuality shine -- just as a sword is forged in the flames. Your individuality is your own unique weapon for making the most of your life. It is your jeweled sword.
People who have worked hard and long to develop their own identities take delight in seeing others develop theirs to the fullest, too. They support and encourage them in their efforts. They take joy in others' successes. And they have the capacity to work for the happiness and welfare of others.
- Adapted from "The Wisdom for Creating Happiness and Peace" by Daisaku Ikeda in the "Living Buddhism" June 2022 edition.