Always be yourself. Unless you can be a unicorn, then always be a unicorn.

Gengle Knight

Senior Member
Korean-South Korea
Always be yourself. Unless you can be a unicorn, then always be a unicorn.
Hi, there!
I saw a quote above in a frame hung on a caffe wall.
But I don't have any clue what that means.
Thanks in advance!
 
  • Chez

    Senior Member
    English English
    It's just humorous. Some people think a unicorn (which doesn't exist and therefore you cannot possibly be a unicorn) is a wonderful, magical thing and would love to pretend that they could be one.

    Its underlying purpose, I suppose, is to emphasise how important it is to 'be yourself' because the only 'better' alternative is to try to be something that doesn't exist.
     

    Gengle Knight

    Senior Member
    Korean-South Korea
    Thanks Chez.
    Btw, I just found a song lyrics that says "Always be yourself. If you can be a unicorn, then always be a unicorn."
    In this case, I can, for sure, grasp the meaning, but I can't still figure out what the quote above exactly means..
    Humm... ^^;
     

    Glenfarclas

    Senior Member
    English (American)
    The punctuation perhaps makes it a little hard to decipher for a learner. How about: "Always be yourself -- unless, that is, you can be a unicorn. If you can, then be a unicorn."

    It's really a play on two different senses of "to be." The same joke exists in the unfunny retort to "Just be yourself": "I couldn't be anybody else, now could I?"
     

    pob14

    Senior Member
    American English
    I've always seen this with Batman rather than a unicorn. But it's the same idea: "Be yourself" is a common platitude, saying that it's good to be true to yourself. The saying is then turned on its head with "unless you can be something much cooler than you are. Then, don't be yourself, be that cool thing.
     

    Florentia52

    Modwoman in the attic
    English - United States
    Its a quote from 'Alice in Wonderland' character Elle Lothlorien. Written by Lewis Carroll.
    This is not quite right. There is a writer who uses the name of “Elle Lothlorien” (the surname of which is from J.R.R. Tolkien), and who wrote a version of Alice in Wonderland set in Australia, and the unicorn sentences are from it.

    [Edited after some fact-checking]
     
    Last edited:

    suzi br

    Senior Member
    English / England
    Its a quote from 'Alice in Wonderland' character Elle Lothlorien. Written by Lewis Carroll.
    Is it? I don’t think there’s a character called that in the book.
    Maybe you’ve heard it in a film version? I don’t know.

    Cross-posted. Florentia knows more about it.
     

    Chasint

    Senior Member
    English - England
    Thanks Chez.
    Btw, I just found a song lyrics that says "Always be yourself. If you can be a unicorn, then always be a unicorn."
    In this case, I can, for sure, grasp the meaning, but I can't still figure out what the quote above exactly means..
    Humm... ^^;
    The punctuation isn't helpful.

    My interpretation is as follows:

    There is a common phrase in self-help circles that goes, "Always be yourself but be the the best self you can be."
    In other words we each have many sides to our characters and can choose which ones prevail. Therefore we are enjoined to choose to be the best we can be.

    The mythical unicorn was considered to represent transformation, purity, magic, hope and many other positive qualities. If you can find the 'unicorn' side of yourself then you will have found the best side of yourself.

    So:
    Be yourself, but if you can metaphorically be a unicorn, assume that aspect of yourself.
     

    Florentia52

    Modwoman in the attic
    English - United States
    There is a common phrase in self-help circles that goes, "Always be yourself but be the the best self you c
    In other words we each have many sides to our characters and can choose which ones prevail. Therefore we are enjoined to choose to be the best we can be.

    The mythical unicorn was considered to represent transformation, purity, magic, hope and many other positive qualities. If you can find the 'unicorn' side of yourself then you will have found the best side of yourself.

    So:
    Be yourself, but if you can metaphorically be a unicorn, assume that aspect of yourself.
    This may be the meaning that was intended when the line was written into the song lyrics. In the original, however, it's pretty clearly just a joke:

    (The narrator, speaking in anger.) "I don't know what you learned in that fantasy world of yours growing up, but I was told to just be myself."

    "Unless you can be a unicorn, Dee says. "In which case, you should always be a unicorn,"

    (The narrator becomes furious)..."I know you think you're the funniest person in the room, but you might want to take note of the fact the no one here is laughing!"

    Source: Alice in Wonderland (2013), by Elle Lothlorien
     
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