No two people in the entire world are exactly alike. We differ in all possible regards – looks, personalities, experiences, influences, the list goes on. It‘s common knowledge, yet so many of us still give ourselves a hard time comparing our lives to others’, unable to truly love and respect who we are when it’s the most important work we’ll ever do.
Life isn't about finding yourself. Life is about creating yourself. ― George Bernard Shaw
We’ve all heard this piece of advice on numerous occasions, “just be yourself and everything will be ok”, right? That’s easier said than done. When you want to impress a girl on a first date, when you interview for your dream job, or simply want to be liked in your social group, there is a certain degree of dishonesty involved. It’s understandable – you look and act the way you know will grant you your wishes.
The other side to this story is that when you are your most authentic self, you attract the right people and the right opportunities into your life. By staying true to who you really are, you align yourself with your purpose in this world. By all means, become the best version of yourself that you are capable of becoming, yet make sure you are 100% honest with yourself about what really makes you happy.
Meet me halfway
We have to be completely honest – there is no magic formula to help you define yourself. Some of us discover our purpose as early on as kindergarten, some of us take years to properly develop our characters and grow into ourselves. “You’re already different. Your job is to figure out how and then to be more of that”, says teacher Caroline McHugh in her TEDx Talk titled The art of being yourself. Her piece of advice is to find your middle place, the happy medium in between the inferiority and superiority complex.
INFERIORITY – INTERIORITY – SUPERIORITY
“Most of us don't take up nearly the space the universe intended for us", says Caroline. We encourage you to pause your reading here and reflect on that statement for a minute. Can you feel like your room to breathe just got about ten times bigger? Step into the kind of freedom where the only boundaries are set by how you treat others. “Humility is not thinking less of yourself, humility is thinking about yourself less”, adds Caroline. This sweet spot in between inferiority and superiority is the starting point to connecting with your inner self.
I for Individuality
We come to this world in certain longitudes and latitudes, certain times and circumstances. Some of the elements of our realities are within our control and some are not. What we observe and experience, as well as everyone we interact with, influence us and, to some degree, shape our idea of who we are. The levels on which our individuality operates can be described as:
- Identity: The formation of a cohesive image of yourself on the basis of your beliefs, personality traits, looks as well as your inner voice, dreams, desires, and goals.
- Inception: The courage to acknowledge, understand, and accept your identity, settle in it and unfold it in front of the world.
- Independence: The daring to amplify and celebrate who you are; the readiness to defend your identity and live your truth without compromising it.
Discovering your individuality and fully embracing it is a multidimensional process. Meandering among different options, colors, and fabrics of who you are might sometimes feel confusing or overwhelming, and we are here to support you. Let’s try and figure you out together, shall we?
The only person you are destined to become is the person you decide to be. – Ralph Waldo Emerson
Me, myself, and I
You know your identity and now you want to dig deeper to find the sweet spot in between inferiority and superiority where you are neither insignificant, nor the center of the universe. There are more ways and detours leading to self-discovery than there are people on the planet, yet if you tune into your essence, you’ll find all the answers. Here’s what you can do to speed up the process:
- Love and accept yourself the way you are, flaws and all. Self-love is your frame for the self-portrait you are going to paint once you discover more of your colors.
- Care for your mental and physical health. You only have one of each and you will need the strength of both to be your most genuine self.
- Take a break from all media. Turn off the TV, disconnect from the Internet, do a social media detox for at least a day or two. This quiet time and mindfulness will help you find more clarity and focus.
- Surround yourself with people who will help you grow – friends and family to love and support you, and also mentors to guide you in the right direction.
- Express yourself. Any creative method will do. Go ahead and draw, paint, sing, dance, write a poem, a book, or a speech, journal, design a blog, style an outfit, change your hair color. Also, give yourself permission to be terrible at all the aforementioned activities. Failure is part of you, too.
- Experiment with new paths and hobbies. Take a photography class, join a book club, visit a museum, start a garden, take something apart and put it back together. Invite new energy into your life to put your true self in a new spotlight.
- Celebrate yourself. Every birthday, every small win, success, step forward, or a new beginning is a chance to reflect on your life and reevaluate your goals and dreams that make up who you are.
- Cultivate your happiness. Do more of what brings you joy. Devote time to what lights you up.
- Make choices that feel right for you. If it means moving to another country, never getting married, or changing a career path right before retirement, then so be it. You do you. Nobody else is going to live your life for you, therefore, you need to make your reality functional for your bum.
- Dare to be different. Learn about people like Lady Gaga, Elon Musk, or Marie Forleo, who are larger than life and use their vibrant individuality as a force for good.
- Be honest with yourself. Always. Speak your mind, wear whatever makes you feel best, live wherever you feel most at home. These are all signs pointing you towards your truest self. Go after what YOU want.
- Travel to broaden your mind. Go on vacation abroad, take a trip to a nearby town you’ve never visited, or simply take a walk around your local area. You never know what you might find around the corner. Explore and on one of your excavations you might even find yourself.
The moment you discover and accept your most authentic self, you transcend the material world. You become liberated, stripped away of the inessential, and free to fully own your life.
20/20 vision exercise
May we suggest one more tactic to help you enhance who you are: vision boards. If you’ve already manifested your dreams coming true, attracted the perfect partner, or brought abundance into your life, you know what we mean. Skeptics, we hear you, now please hear us out, you have nothing to lose.
How it works is you visualize your best self, whoever you aspire to be, and act from that level. In your mind, picture the tiniest details of your looks, confidence, your role in the world, people you wish to be surrounded with, your career and family life. Feel it in your heart as the only unquestionable truth. Next, prepare a visual representation of it – digital or on paper with photos, magazine clippings, ribbons, whatever floats your inspiration boat. Then, put it where you’ll be able to look at your creation throughout the day, every day, for constant stimulation.
Us against the world
We need to talk about the fact that not everyone is going to like the 100% you and that’s ok. The world creates unrealistic expectations of everyone. Be younger, thinner, more muscular, taller, smarter, quicker, more adaptive, chilled, wittier, richer, and so on.
Can you imagine how clear your head would be without all this noise? And there is no way around it – to be yourself, you have to tune out all the outside opinions and demands, and focus solely on what you want. You’ll end up with fewer people around you, but you’ll be left with certainty those who stayed truly love you.
The need for validation can seriously hinder your growth. As Caroline McHugh underlines in her talk, “there are people who say they have 15 years of experience when they mean one year 15 times". They are what Seth Godin calls cogs in the machine. "People who are frightened to be themselves, will work for those who aren't afraid", adds Caroline.
Sometimes we don't reach for the stars. Sometimes we are satisfied with what people tell us we're supposed to be satisfied with. I'm just not going for it. — Beyoncé
A word of reassurance
Nobody could walk a mile in your shoes. This gives you all the power that you need to make your own decisions. Your relationship with yourself is priceless and nobody can take it away from you. Being yourself is the ultimate freedom, there’s hardly anything more liberating than living at peace with yourself.
The world is beautiful when it’s unified in diversity, not as a gigantic lump of gray mass. We need you to lead by example and pioneer change by being your authentic self unapologetically.
Your life is your message.