Embrace your difference. Own your individuality.
“It was only until I started to be myself that the music started to flow and people started to listen,” said British singer Sam Smith, who just landed the trifecta at this years Grammy’s with best record of the year, best song of the year and best new artist! It makes sense, but it begs the question, why did Sam, and why do so many people find it hard to be themselves?
Because we like to belong and be liked!
We human beings are wired with a deep desire to belong. Likewise, we’re instinctively driven to avoid acting in ways that put us at risk of being criticized, left out, or pushed out of the pack. It’s just how we’re made! While there is nothing inherently wrong about wanting to be liked, too often we let our fear of what other people may think keep us from expressing ourselves fully. That fear keeps us from embracing what makes us different and from forging our own path, even if it veers away from the one others expect us to walk.
I recently had the pleasure of meeting a woman named Carly Findlay, who was born with the rare skin condition Ichthyosis that makes her look quite different to most people. During our conversation for RawCourage.TV we talked about the importance of embracing what makes us unique – whether it be an aspect of our physical appearance, a personality trait, our past (complete with its wrong turns – we all make them), our passions, our dreams and our preferences (sexual or otherwise).
Too often we can let our fear of what other people may think
keep us from expressing ourselves fully.
We live in a world that pressures us to conform – to a certain way of looking, leading and living. Which is why it takes courage to make ourselves vulnerable to criticism or outright rejection. The irony is that the less you strive to have people like and respect you, the more they do (ask Sam Smith!) Likewise, as you live your life more authentically, you attract more authentic people and build more authentic relationships. Not only that, you embolden others to lay down their masks, embrace their uniqueness and live more truthfully also. What a gift!
“Too often we let people define us,” Carly said to me as she shared how people so often react to her appearance. Which is why each of us must each take full responsibility for defining ourselves, writing the story of our own lives – the narrative about who we are and what we are capable of doing.
Of the 7 billion people on our planet, there is no-one just like you. Only when you own all of who you are can you – and others – come to know just how magnificent that person is!
As Dr Suess so wisely said, “Be who you are and say what you feel, because those who mind don’t matter and those who matter don’t mind.”
This May, Carly is organizing a special event for adults, children and families affected by Ichthyosis. This is the first time such a large event has been held. Donations to support it can be made here.