Quotes for teens on life lessons

Quote for teens 'You be you unless you're a jerk' on acceptance and boundaries

"You be you— unless you’re a jerk."

-- Truth Be Told Quotes

If you want to come home, slip into fuzzy socks, microwave some cabbage rolls, and binge watch a zorbing tournament, that’s cool. You be you.

But it’s not ok for people to use “well that’s just the way I am” as an excuse to be tone deaf to the impact they have on other people.

“You be you” is about respecting each other's uniqueness. It’s not permission to roll over other people, even if they are a zorbing champion.

(Side note: Zorbing is an actual thing. We don't make this stuff up.)

Activities for this quote

Teaching resources

Bring this quote into your classroom with a lesson guide and activities that are ready to use.

Quote Overview / Description

Quote about acceptance and boundaries

This quote is about finding the balance between being accepting of each person’s individuality and preserving the core values that define good character. It includes elements of self-awareness and addresses the need to set boundaries for unacceptable behavior in others.

Self-awareness / Self-concept

As kids grow, we encourage them to be accepting of themselves through the awkwardness of growing up. We teach them to love themselves for who they are. However, teens are in a process of deciding what type of people they want to be. We are also guiding them to make moral choices, to be kind, to be a responsible citizen and member of the community. For teens to be ok with being themselves, they also need to choose to be someone they can be proud of at a deeper, moral level. They need to make choices and treat others in a way that is inline with what they know to be right and wrong. Without an internal compass that helps them make choices they can be proud of, they can’t be happy with who they are. "You be you" needs to include being someone you can feel good about on the inside.


We encourage kids to be accepting (or at least tolerant) of differences in others. But what happens when someone being different means they are cruel, selfish, immoral, or take advantage of others? Are we required to accept that person’s behavior because he/she is being true to his or her core personality? The point here is that “you be you” isn’t an excuse to behave any way you want to. A society must interact with civility and core standards. For teens, it is important to learn to set boundaries in relationships, boundaries around what we each feel is an acceptable way to be treated by others, even while we are accepting of our differences.

Discussion questions / Writing Prompts

Questions to prompt discussion, journaling, essays for high school health class and social emotional development lessons:

  1. In what ways is it ok for someone to express his or her individuality? Are there ways people use their individuality to justify treating others poorly?
  2. Have you ever seen people use “That’s just the way I am” or “That’s how I was raised” as an excuse for treating others without respect?
  3. What is something about you, or something you do, that others might not understand, but that you wish they could accept?
  4. Which core values of American society support individuality? Which one’s limit individuality?
  5. What is the symbolism of the mountain behind this quote?
  6. What are some things you do that help you feel like you are embracing who you really are or who you really want to be? What are some traits about yourself you are proud of? What are some you'd like to change?


Activities and worksheets for teen SEL / high school health and wellness lessons:

  1. Current Events- Choose an example from public life or history of a person who consistently treats others well or poorly. What are the traits they demonstrate? (Examples of traits: respect, empathy, kindness, honesty, and responsibility. More on Good Character Traits. )
  2. You be You Journaling Writing Prompt- Download the You be You journaling page with writing prompts to encourage self reflection.
  3. Teaching Tolerance Lessons- Teaching Tolerance offers free classroom resources on a range of topics around tolerance and acceptance.
  4. Lessons on identity and acceptance- Facing History offers a collection of classroom resources, lesson plans, media and more on topics such as gender identity and personal acceptance, bullying and ostracism, and connecting acceptance to current events, and racism and religious prejudice- all in a searchable database of classroom materials.

Coloring Pages

Download printable coloring pages for a mindfulness activity that features this quote.

  1. Classic coloring page
  2. Be Your Unique Self coloring page
  3. Be Unique and Decent coloring page

Curriculum Topics

High School Health Class / Social Emotional Development Core Curriculum Alignment:

  • Emotional and social wellness
  • Self advocacy, empowerment
  • Communication Skills
  • Promoting a healthy, accepting, inclusive environment
  • Respect, Awareness, Diversity
  • Perspectives of others in conflict situations
  • Setting boundaries


  • Respect others as you would like to be respected
  • Be aware of your communication skills/style
  • Use empathy and show respect for diversity
  • Self awareness and acceptance

Character Traits/Values

  • Respect, Self-respect
  • Self-Awareness, Self-concept
  • Kindness / Caring

The quote and opening paragraph of this page are an excerpt from the Book, Truth Be Told Quotes: Teen Edition. Presented with permission from the author, Colleen Doyle Bryant. ©LoveWell Press. Find the print and ebook versions of Truth Be Told Quotes on the Shop page.

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Colleen Doyle Bryant

Colleen Doyle Bryant is the author of five books and more than 50 learning resources about making good choices for the right reasons. Her Talking with Trees series for elementary students and Truth Be Told Quotes series for teens are used in curriculums around the world. Rooted in Decency, Colleen's latest release for an adult audience, explores what happened to common decency and how we can get to a place of more cooperation and kindness. Learn more at ColleenDoyleBryant.com.

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