Tag Archives: originality

Monday’s Meditation: On Why You Shouldn’t Decide In Advance What Type You Are

Monday, April 10, 2017

Celebrate your differentness!

It seems innocent enough:

Which Sex And The City character are you? Are you a Charlotte, a Miranda, a Samantha, or a Carrie? 

Which FRIENDS character are you most like? 

What’s your design style? Is it modern farmhouse, glitzy glam, hipster heaven, or traditional? 

Dress for your body type! Are you a pear, an upside-down triangle, a spongebob squarepants, or an hourglass?

These personality quizzes are a dime a dozen, and we take them with a grain of salt; meaningless, silly fun. That’s all they are. 

We ascribe a bit more meaning to boxes that describe our social standing: jock, theatre nerd, Type A. We place ourselves in one of the two camps known as Extrovert and Introvert. We fit ourselves into the pre-existing archetypes of career: entrepreneur, starving artist, and so on.

So much of our lives and identities are informed by selecting from the (very limited) available options of Type.

What Type are you out of these three options? We ask ourselves or are asked by the world. Understanding that we have to be good sports about it and choose one, we’re content to choose or accept the option that most closely resembles us.

Only, the more we dissect the options, the more the available ones never seem to accurately characterize us. After all, we are some of this one, but also some of that.

We are equal parts Sex and the City characters. We have some of each facets of the typical body types. She likes theatre, but she also loves soccer. He is somewhere in between starving artist and entrepreneur. She is kind of Type A, but also never folds her laundry, and always runs late.

Some of this, but also some of that.

Which is another way of saying: neither, exactly.

We are so accustomed to living within pre-existing archetypes that it seems completely normal to attempt to assign ourselves to the one we reckon we are most like.

But nothing could be more limiting than to squeeze ourselves into boxes that were never capable of describing individuality, but rather of capturing the masses.

There is no point in trying to clarify what pre-existing element we are most like. There is no freedom that can come of assigning ourselves labels which dictate how we ought to react, spend our time, take our leisure, or make our livings. 

The only real way we are alike is that none of us is exactly like the other.

You are not one of five available options. Your life does not have to follow one of three pre-existing courses.

You are here to leave your weird and majestic mark.

Write a new part.  

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.