|Break the Mold…|

You already ARE the standard… What are you TRYING to fit into a standard for? We were each created to be INDIVIDUAL standards, and we’re trying to fit into A standard. IT DOESN’T MAKE ANY SENSE.

-Lauryn Hill

People spend so much of their time trying to live up to the perception of success that they see in others. 

  1. I see someone who seems particularly interesting (or maybe a friend of mine whom I admire for any plethora of reasons).
  2. I break down the things that I like about that person.
  3. I compare my habits/traits to the ones that I notice about them.
  4. I try to change some of my habits/traits to fit in more like them.
  5. I get sad because I see where I fall short/try to hard and miss.

This is a random, ridiculous, and damaging pattern to follow. Unfortunately, I have been privy to this pattern of thought many times. If I have a particularly “unsuccessful” social interaction, or maybe just a one-on-one that I think could’ve happened better, I tend to think about “how would <insert name here> have handled that?” Maybe they would’ve been a lot more smooth, or easily more charming, without stumbling over their words. Maybe they would have completely turned their situation around to work for them. I know a lot of awkward people that make awkward work for them ;). It doesn’t always seem to work the same way for me when I try it out, then I’m either back to square one, or deciding that I need to give things a break for a while. 

This is crazy right? How could I spend so much time flat out rejecting the very essence of what makes me, me!? That is what I’m doing every time I jump into this pattern of thinking. I am literally sitting myself down and telling myself: “You are not good enough. This thing that you have an issue with, there are many specific examples of people who do this better than you do. Learn from them!” When I type this out, it doesn’t even sound right. However, this is exactly what I subject myself to. The problem with this is that it usually ends up with me stifling myself in some way, in order to simply reflect and imitate what I’ve seen from someone else. It becomes incredibly difficult to find yourself when you’re just mirroring the “cool” stuff that you think you see in everyone else all the time. What happens when the mirror gets cloudy/breaks/loses its main subject? Everything gets lost and you have to search for a new one. 

The funny thing is that there is nothing wrong with being myself or being different. It is without a doubt the best thing about humanity. We all have similar desires and needs, but the way that we attack them, or run from them. The way that we experience things makes us all so interesting and different from each other. I would not want a friends’ circle that was full of people that were exactly like me. That would be REALLY stale after a while. I lived for a long time with the idea that I had to have something special about myself that served to highlight me. I could be the funny guy, or the really insightful guy, or just the great listener. I was under the impression that this was how I was able to differentiate myself from people. However, this constantly falls flat, because I tend to just try to more exaggeratedly emphasize these things that I see in the people around me.  The very interesting thing is that we all kinda do this same thing. I’ve noticed that we are all performers. We work really hard to make sure that we present ourselves in a certain way, a certain light. This is how we craft the personas that people see. Everyone falls for a perception of someone that they meet. A lot of time, there’s no way to bring light to the struggles that all have behind the scenes. Why would we want that to happen? If people knew what kind of crap we were dealing with, they’d judge us, right? They’d probably see all the crap that we’ve put ourselves through and just walk away. Maybe this is just me though.

Earlier this year, I had a thought. I somehow came to the realization that I was holding back my group of friends. I was always the one who was over thinking things. I seemed to be the one who always had some kind of conflict with people. I wasn’t as happy as the others seemed with their lives, even though I was following what I saw them doing and thought that it would work for me. Once I realized this, I knew that something needed to change. My approach to this, however, was to try to separate myself from this group of friends, while I figured things out. My thought was that I could clear my head of trying this emulation cycle, if I cleared things out of my way. The crazy part was that my friends all believed in the good stuff that I brought to the circle. ME! MY CONTRIBUTIONS! They were not seeing things the same way I was. They were able to see the me that I wasn’t allowing myself to see. All the difference that I thought needed to be hidden, was the stuff that they appreciated from me the most. Weird right? I thought to myself, perhaps I was doing an even better job with this performing than I thought.  WRONG!

This really funny thing happens when you’re open with people. Little pieces of you show through your perfectly presented facade. So while i’ve been spending all my time focusing on what I thought I should be presenting to people, folks were able to see little pieces of me that were behind all the smoke and mirrors. Contrary to what I always thought, there was no need for me to develop a schtick or anything like that! The real me is just as interesting and engaging (most of the time), and most importantly, IS ENOUGH. 

2 lessons to remember and take away from this. Being me is good! Diving into that more is a great idea, and being open about it is going to progress me. The other is that I need to really need to stop hiding from people, because I think that I am not bringing enough to the table. That is this week’s challenge. Push myself to just be me, and allow myself to be comfortable enough with that to let people see it. 

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