I've come across with the phrase below:

When have I felt like the real me?

I searched online dictionaries but I didn't find anything.

So, could you please tell me what the meaning of "feels like the real me" is?

The fuller text is:

What comes naturally to me? For just a moment, ignore what you have been taught. Ignore what society has told you. Ignore what others expect of you. Look inside yourself and ask, “What feels natural to me? When have I felt alive? When have I felt like the real me?” No internal judgments or people-pleasing. No second-guessing or self-criticism. Just feelings of engagement and enjoyment. Whenever you feel authentic and genuine, you are headed in the right direction.

Atomic Habits By James Clear

2 Answers 2


The context seems to be advising the reader to strive to avoid feeling unnatural, false or unauthentic; to ask themselves "what is the real me?" (as distinguished from "the false me"). To feel like the real me would be to feel that you were being your true self, disregarding, for the moment, what that actually means for any given individual.

Books about self-help, motivation, popular psychology, and related topics, often contain uses of personal pronouns like this ("the real me", "the true you", "the best me I can be" etc).

  • I think that my problem refers exactly to the phrase "the real me". Does it simply mean "the real version of me"?
    – Peace
    Dec 16, 2018 at 13:44
  • 1
    @Peace: yes, it does mean that. Of course, what "real" means in that context is something open to debate. For example, I think that the "real me" is a handsome genius, but my wife thinks that the "real me" is an ignorant, obese fool. Dec 16, 2018 at 14:10

The phrase "the real you" (and thus the real me) refers to the authentic person, the true self. The phrase gained a lot of popularity in the 1960s when there was widespread rebellion against many kinds of social constraint that inhibited expressions of individuality, but it had been used already in the 19th century in religious writings to refer to the "inner being", the individual unique spirit.

Another tangentially related meaning for "the real me" refers to the self that a public figure (politician, say, or actor) does not reveal in their public persona.

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