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Meaning of the song ‘Make Yourself’ by ‘Incubus’

Released: 1999

“Make Yourself” by Incubus is a powerful anthem of self-reliance, introspection, and the process of taking control over one’s life and identity. This song delves into the battle between conforming to external pressures or societal norms and the journey of forging one’s own path. It’s a clarion call to individuality, empowerment, and the resilience needed to construct one’s identity rather than being molded by others.

The opening lines, “If I hadn’t made me, I would’ve been made somehow / If I hadn’t assembled myself, I’d have fallen apart by now,” set the stage for a narrative of self-creation versus being passively shaped by external forces. The concept here is straightforward yet profound: if the lead singer, Brandon Boyd, hadn’t taken active steps to define himself, the pressures and influences of the world would have inevitably shaped him into something he’s not. There’s an acknowledgment of fragility in human identity, suggesting that without proactive efforts to define oneself, disintegration – either metaphorical or literal in terms of losing one’s sense of self – is inevitable.

Boyd uses the metaphor of being made into papier-mâché to describe being molded by others – superficially strong but easily destroyed once challenges arise (“At a distance, you’re strong until the wind comes, then you crumble and blow away”). This imagery is striking, depicting a person as a fragile, crafted object, lacking in substance and resilience, indicating that a self not actively built by its owner is weak and temporary. The line “If you let ’em fuck you, there will be no foreplay” further expands on this, using bold and raw language to convey the idea that allowing others to dominate or define you will only lead to harsh, uncaring treatment, stripped of dignity and respect.

The refrain, “You should make amends with you / If only for better health, better health / But if you really want to live / Why not try and make yourself?” serves as both a moment of internal advice and a universal message. It emphasizes the importance of reconciling with oneself for the sake of one’s mental and physical well-being. It’s an invitation to embrace life fully by embarking on the journey of self-definition and self-creation, highlighting that true living requires effort towards self-awareness and self-assertion.

In essence, “Make Yourself” is not just about refusing to be shaped by external pressures; it’s also about the active, sometimes challenging process of self-creation. When Boyd asserts, “And if I fuck me, I’ll fuck me in my own way,” he embraces the concept of making mistakes or taking missteps, but on his own terms, emphasizing autonomy even in flaw and error. This repetition underscores the theme of taking control, suggesting that self-constructed identity, with all its imperfections, is infinitely preferable to a flawless but externally defined existence.

Overall, “Make Yourself” by Incubus is a resonant call to action, encouraging listeners to take charge of their identity and life path. It’s a blend of raw, unapologetic language and vivid metaphors that serves to embolden and inspire. Through the lens of rock’s rebellious spirit, Incubus crafts a message that is both deeply personal and universally applicable, resonating with anyone who seeks to live authentically in a world that too often demands conformity.

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