Tag Archives: originality

Monday’s Meditation: On Fitting In Vs. Changing The World

Monday, March 20, 2017

 

We are not here to fit in, we are here to be our authentic selves.

I watched a snippet of an interview of Oprah Winfrey over the weekend, in which Oprah was recounting how she got her start on television.

At one of her first positions,  her news director at the time had evidently said, “We’re going to have to do something about that name, ’cause nobodies going to remember it or know how to pronounce it.”

Oprah had always yearned for a more normal name, a name like “Suzy,” which is what her bosses proposed. “Suzy is friendly,” they had said. “Suzy Winfrey, eyewitness news.” 

Yet when her superiors advised her to change it, the mogul decided she would, in fact, keep her name, which a global audience has had no trouble remembering, or knowing how to pronounce. 

In fact, the singularity of her name is what undoubtedly made it into a household one. She is among the select few in our society who needs no last name as a means of identification. “Winfrey” might as well be left off, or not exist at all.

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On Shark Tank, hopeful entrepreneurs pitch their companies to the would-be investors. I am continually frustrated by the hesitation on the part of the sharks to sign on with a company that’s attempting to truly innovate. 

“You’re trying to create a whole new category,” they’ll say. “That requires a lot of work, and I just don’t think I want to do that.” 

Or: “This really involves a lot of consumer education, and I just don’t think I can get involved in that.” 

One by one, they go out.

Everyone wants a sure thing, and different, novel, and new is almost never that.

Being the same almost always seems to be easier. Most of us don’t set out to ruffle feathers or raise eyebrows. Most of us want to do important work–the work we’ve been sent here to contribute–not fight the battle of normalizing ourselves or our contribution before our work can be received. 

As a society we have just barely begun to open to the concept of celebrating our differences. Marketers, in particular, still seem intent on dumbing down their content, and on catering to the mainstream. They still seem to believe that people have neither the capacity nor the tolerance to encounter something different.

And yet, we should all know better by now. We should know by now that it is the truly original individuals and companies that manage to shake the world. We should know all it takes is to demonstrate your intentions and your authenticity in order to earn your place in people’s hearts and psyches. 

“Suppose your name had just been Mary or Jane,” the interviewer said. “It wouldn’t have worked,” Oprah replied. 

Monday’s Meditation: On Authenticity

Monday, June 30, 2014

A reminder that there's nothing more important than being your authentic self.

There are so many lessons I’ve learned specifically through the writing of this blog and through being an active participant in the blogosphere. 

The one that feels most key to me most days is the value of originality and authenticity. 

I can so vividly recall my line of thought as I prepared to write my first few posts, “I’m going to be so concise, keep the language totally streamlined, and bombard them with pretty pictures because everybody hates to read and just wants to see the images.”

Blah blah.

My first posts? They were boring. You can go back through the archives if you like, but personally I wouldn’t bother because they’re boring. The writing is concise. But perhaps constipated would be more accurate. Oh, they’re fine, really. I still wrote them, after all, and so I am in there, but mostly they read as if they’re trying too hard. As if I was.

The day I decided to give myself permission to be myself on this blog everything changed.

It’s hard to pinpoint whether I started getting notable traffic because I had released myself from ill-formed inhibitions, or whether the growing stats made me realize self-consciousness was pointless because I no longer had any control over who might have been reading. Either way, I saw that I had a choice: say it how it was true for me and not care about how occasionally nonsensical, most often weird, and even sometimes bossy I might come off, or, well, that was the thing to do really because otherwise what would be the point?

Writing this blog is a labor of love for me, meaning that it’s an absurd amount of work and that the only way I’ve kept at it is because it offers me the chance to say it the way I think it needs to be said.

I want to inspire, motivate, amuse, entertain, and shame you all into changing (kidding, kidding). In order to do that, I have no choice but to keep it real, be aware not to cruelly offend, and have fun

If this blog has proven anything to me, it’s that the facets of you that make you the person you are–that magical combination of quirks, opinions, strengths and curiosities that exists within you and no one else–makes you remarkable. That is what allows others to connect with you and your message. 

If you’re under the impression that it’s best to pipe that authentic self down and strive to be unobjectionable, you’ve been misinformed.

We–the world–care what you have to say. We want to hear your unique perspective and we’ll love nothing more than knowing that voice is coming to us without having been overly censored. 

In a time when comparison to others is arguably easier than it ever has been, there is nothing so as important as being true to yourself.

Monday’s Meditation: On Why You Won’t Find Holiday Gift Guides On Live Simply

Monday, December 2, 2013

Tis the season for gift guides, and publications, bloggers, and practically anyone else with the means to put together a product collage in some format are putting them forth.

Since I began blogging, I’ve debated putting together Live Simply holiday gift guides. And then each year I’ve just let the opportunity slide right by, eventually telling myself that it was too late now anyway, Annie; all of the shoppers have already been guided to buy all of the gifts.

This year, once again, I considered it. I tossed it casually back and forth thinking, “I could do a mini one, I wouldn’t have to make it some big ordeal of a thing.” And then that thought would be promptly followed with “Uch. What an ordeal.” And so forth. 

The absence of holiday gift guides on Live Simply this year isn’t a reflection of my stance on holiday gift giving. I don’t feel the need to decry the commercialization of the holidays (mostly because society does a pretty reliable job making that evident all on its own). The reason is wholly more sympathetic; I honestly can’t imagine you need or want to see another gift guide, is really all it is.

If you’re like me, you feel like you’re getting it from every direction this time of year. It’s all presented in the context of being festive and fun and it is, mostly. But by the thirteenth such guide, it starts to feel like you’re being assaulted with retail and jolly chants of “buy, buy, buy!” 

So this year I’ll be refraining from putting out a Live Simply gift guide not because I believe you shouldn’t find and give wonderful gifts, but because I feel like what the world needs at this moment isn’t another person adding to the noise. True, maybe that means I’ll miss out on the plentiful affiliate dollars that others posting guides will reap. But that in itself is hardly incentive enough for me. I would rather this remain a place where you can come to for calm, for a respite from the norm. This is Live Simply, after all. 

I’m sorry if I’ll be disappointing some of you. I’m sorry if you were really counting on a “100 presents to buy your totally anal retentive mother-in-law.” You’ll just have to seek out a gift guide somewhere else. Not that you’ll have to, because you really can’t avoid them, no matter how hard you try. 

Live Simply is all year round. And also during the holidays.