Blazing Your Own Trail Starts With Being Yourself

One thing I always notice when reading the words of successful individuals is that they think for themselves.  You can just tell they do things the way THEY think is best, not what they think OTHERS would do or wish them to do.  They are trailblazers because they are first to push away a new path and it is this self-confidence and willingness to think independent of the herd that earns them their respect and often times their success.

We all have our own unique personalities; our own likes, dislikes and general preferences.  Unfortunately many of us end up compromising these preferences for what we believe is a necessary evil.  Yet all too often we find someone else doing what we wanted to do, but didn’t for fear of a failing result.  Our success was stolen by our own twisted idea that our uniqueness was a liability, not an asset.

I don’t know about you, but I’m often afraid of truly speaking my mind for fear of things like disagreement, tainting of my reputation and that awful thing we call r-e-j-e-c-t-i-o-n!  I mean, what if I’m misunderstood?  Or what if I say something that turns out to be inaccurate or maybe just comes across as silly?

The problem with these fears is that the alternative is much worse.  Let’s say we are successful, but fake?  Or even worse, unsuccessful AND fake?  Either way we will be miserable.  If we are not being ourselves then who cares if we are accepted?  It’s high school all over again, right?!  You know what I mean, when we tried to be liked by certain people by talking a certain way, walking a certain way and acting a certain way.  Then we look back on those days and think how silly we were and how meaningless it all was with our own uniqueness pushed down by our fears.  This has to stop or we will never know what we’re truly capable of!

The Hard Part Is Taking The First Step

I could go on and on about the importance of being ourselves or the detriment of not, but let’s assume we agree at this point.  OK, so now what?  Well, it’s really quite simple.  We need only to listen to our own hearts and minds.  That’s pretty much it.

I’m not suggesting we disregard the wisdom around us or go against someone else’s better judgment, but when the only thing standing between being ourselves and being fake is fear of the “what if” we must always push ahead!  The more we do this the easier it will be and the easier it gets the better we’ll be at being ourselves.

What Does It Mean To Be Yourself

When I think of ‘being yourself’ I picture someone who acts on their intuition, not the latest census.  I see an individual who goes against the grain for no other reason but to appease their unique idea of how it should be done.  I envision a peace of mind that only comes from the knowledge that if they’re going to be rejected or even ignored it will be THEY who are taking the hit, not their pseudo self.

I see so much that I want to be and success that is waiting to be grasped, yet my fears keep me from taking that first step.  I’ve made great strides over the years, but still have a ways to go.  As I continue to break out of my shell and see the benefits of being myself I thought I’d share this struggle with you in hopes that if you’re stuck as a pseudo you, that you’d be inspired to push past this guaranteed mediocrity.

Eric Hamm

Comments

  1. says

    Hi Eric, great post! I think the reference to high school really hits home when you think about it… it’s sort of the same archetypal experience again but not as juveniles but as adults. In high school, we try on different identities because we’re not sure who we are yet, but hopefully, as adults, we do know who we are, yet it’s that same sort of experience with similar fears.

    Thanks for the reminder to really be ourselves… I think lots of us struggle with this, especially when we feel vulnerable for one reason or another. If we could all just realize that everyone else often feels this way too, then it would probably make things a lot easier!

    Cheers,
    Miche :)

    • says

      Hey Miche, I thought a few people might be able to relate to the high school analogy. :-)

      Yeah, there’s no doubt that others feel the same way. You’re right, if we could just keep that in mind we would be much less likely to compromise. Eric

  2. says

    Eric, I had a great conversation with a friend this weekend regarding what he called the “scripts” we follow either in our business relationships or life in general. I think, just as most of us do, we get used to these scripts as we did in highschool. If you don’t stand out, you survive. Survive is the key word there, not succeed. Great post. We all need to review the scripts we have become used to and for the most part throw them out in order to “stand out”.
    @johnflurry

    • says

      Excellent stuff, John! “scripts” is such a great way of putting it. Hit the nail right on the head.

      I find that only when I’m forced out of my comfort zone (ie. traveling, unusual social situations, etc..) am I truly made aware of these “scripts” that I go by and how much I depend on them. Standing out is so important. There’s just too many faces on this planet to blend in and expect anyone to notice. Eric

  3. says

    Hi Eric,

    In the last month I’ve found myself writing many posts about this subject. I wrote a post on the importance of authenticity at the World’s Strongest Librarian. I started to unfilter my writing. Conventional wisdom would tell us that quitting a job in this market would be ridiculous especially after it took me 6 months to find one. But I left in a matter of two weeks because I hated it so much that I didn’t want to be there at all. I think we often get caught up in letting the opinions and thoughts others dictate our actions and whether we should be ourselves.

  4. says

    “When I think of ‘being yourself’ I picture someone who acts on their intuition, not the latest census.”
    I like this. Statistics are overrated, and it’s a shame so many of us have learned to ignore the little voice right within us.

    Blessings,
    Akemi

  5. says

    Totally dude. I always ask myself – what’s the worst that could happen if I am myself? they reject me? so what? This has allowed me to skip thru life never having put on a suit, written a resume down or otherwise conformed to stuff I don;t want to do and it just earns you respect. all power to yo’ll.

  6. says

    Excellent thoughts…forget about high school though, organizations and individuals everywhere are quick to pass judgment and conform us to a certain standard. It means we become subjected to a sub-standard society that is diluted with mediocrity.

    If we each take our special gifts (and I think we all have more than one) and forget about what everyone else wants we will have more light bulbs invented and a few more happy people. When I let my mind follow my heart, things fall into place. Maybe these lessons are the ones they should teach in school and the real world.

    Thanks for having the courage to address it. Hopefully we will all get a chance to climb our own mountains.

    • says

      Oh, no doubt have we been diluted as a society by many different groups. And because of this we have to constantly keep ourselves in check, making sure we’re not getting sucked in.

      Great points, by the way. :-) Eric

  7. says

    Thank you for posting this Eric, and everyone else who has replied! So many good points!

    I think that one of the greatest things about the internet is that people can be themselves more easily than they can when dealing with people face-to-face. Some people abuse this by being nasty because they feel that they can get away with it online, of course, but I’m speaking about the way that the internet allows people to share their beliefs and interests and meet people who appreciate what they are truly about – people who they might not meet otherwise. Positive feedback is helpful when you’re trying to build confidence to be yourself in the offline world. I think that by expressing oneself online, even if it’s done anonymously at first, can be very helpful to build up that confidence.

    • says

      This is very true, Lillea. The Internet can be a real stepping stone for people to open up and be themselves. It’s really just all in how you use it. As you pointed out, people often go in the other direction and act like idiots (either not being themselves, or showing their true colors).

      Eric

  8. says

    Eric,
    This is when the world will change…when we all become who we are meant to be.

    I read on a blog somewhere…I’d rather be hated for who I am than loved for who I ma not. I’ll never forget that line and it seemed appropriate to share here.

  9. says

    Thanks for this Eric — I used to get irritated when people would talk about “being myself” because I couldn’t seem to understand what that meant, but what I’ve begun to see is that certain things I do make my body feel light, as if I’ve just finished a run and my legs feel super-flexible. Maybe just following that feeling of lightness is what people mean by being myself, authenticity, and all those other concepts we hear.

    • says

      Hey Chris, you know, I’ve always been the same way. I think I just found that term to be way over used. Yet as you pointed out, there is so much truth to it when looked at in the right light.

      I’m glad you enjoyed the post, Chris, and thanks for stopping by to share your thoughts. :-) Eric

  10. says

    Enjoyed the post. I believe totally in allowing yourself to be yourself and in understanding who that is. It also brings the benefit of an awareness of how others see you, which in turn can create better communications.

    Two people in a disagreement are much more likely to find common ground if they both understand themselves and the other person more fully. Then being just who they are is easier and confidence grows.

    We are each unique on the face of this earth, and that is cause for celebration – albeit may be a little scary at times too!

    • says

      Hey Fiona, you really have some great insight! :-) I totally agree. I also think that we can spot a fake from a mile away and when two people are real with each other, regardless of their personality and beliefs, they will more likely gain each other’s respect if they are truly themselves.

      Thanks for stopping by and sharing your thoughts with us. Eric

  11. says

    Great post! For me, being myself means not trying to please EVERYONE. When you are a leader or have responsibilities to other people, it is good to try to manage in a way that is satisfactory to most people. But, trying to make everyone happy is impossible.
    I’ve learn to trust judgments and instincts. I feel more comfortable in my own skin and I’m happy with the results.

    • says

      Great points Ralph! Especially the part about trusting your own Judgments and Instinct. We have these intuitive thoughts and feelings for a reason. We have contextual life experiences that give us our own kind of insight into people and situations. If we ignore this personal intelligence that we all have we are putting our lives in the hands of others.

      I just know all too well what it’s like to look back on situation after situation and thing, “Why didn’t I just listen to that voice in my own head instead of just going with what everyone else said or did?”.

      Eric

  12. says

    Hey Eric.

    I was glad to read this. Our uniqueness sure is an asset huh. Any other person that sees us always looks for what makes us different first. We don’t want millions of copies of one person floating around. We have to think first of those things that are wacky about us, acknowledge them, and put them out there. There is no time for keeping it hidden from the world.

    Whenever I’ve been myself, and worked outward from my little mental world, very good things have come. I don’t discount the importance of sticking with what we feel is right.

    • says

      Amen to that!! It’s so true that it’s our differences that are what people seek after first, not those things that make us blend in. Thanks for adding so much to the discussion. :-) Eric

  13. says

    What a great find! I am doing research on the Frugal WP theme for my blog stopdoingnothing.com and I come across your blog which has a very similar theme in content. This may be my best find of the day. Excuse me while I go add you to my google ready list and see how fast I can buy the theme :)

  14. says

    Hi Eric,
    I love this line in your post:

    “When I think of ‘being yourself’ I picture someone who acts on their intuition, not the latest census.”

    I guess this is the antithesis of being a politician. Don’t look at the polls before deciding what side of an issue to take. This is great stuff and I’ve been meaning to write a post about something I feel strongly about but I’ve been concerned about how it will be received. Your post here may spur me to finally write and publish it!

    Thanks again for all of your support with the FrugalTheme. I think it is the best out there!

    Best,
    Bob

    • says

      Hey Bob, I really appreciate your appreciation! :-)

      You’re right that you should never let your worry about other’s reception of your own voice, dictate whether you speak up. Just be sure you’re accurate to your ideas and let the chips fall where they may. Eric

  15. says

    very true, all successful people had visions that were hard to believe by others and yet they went against them and turned their visions into reality

  16. Petar says

    Hi Eric,

    Good article. I find it hard sometimes to strike the difference between ‘being yourself’ and ‘not disregarding the wisdom around me’. Most of us probably strive to achieve something and fall inadvertedly into the trap of not being themselves by trying to follow somebody else’s root to success.
    As a student, there are a lot of questions like should I just ‘be myself’, sleep in every once in a while or should I try to get up and work more disciplined in the morning as some very productive people do?
    Where do you strike the difference between staying yourself and trying to learn from other people?

    Best

    Petar

    • says

      Hey Petar, very good points. I think being yourself means making decisions based on what you believe is right, not based on the influence around you (though you should always consider wisdom as others around us can teach us things we don’t already know. That’s how we lean and how we grow.)

      Sleeping in is an ‘in the moment’ feeling, not necessarily a personal choice of what’s best. If you miss a class because you decided to sleep in and then said, “Oh, I was just being myself” that wouldn’t fly. But if you missed class because you did something that you felt was more important that going to class that day then you’re ‘being yourself’ in that you’re deciding to follow your ‘gut’ rather than what is considered ‘proper’ or ‘expected’ by others.

      Does that make sense? Eric

  17. says

    I really appreciate you sharing this sentiment: “I see so much that I want to be and success that is waiting to be grasped, yet my fears keep me from taking that first step.”.

    Pretending to be someone other than we are has probably been around forever but its pervasive epidempic proportions are rooted in the media and consumerism. The whole “fake it until you make it” concept.

    The fact is that we are all afraid of being ridiculed or not measuring up but in the end we will measure up only as far as we allow our lives to unfold with their own natural style. If we can be brave and leap, even just for the minute we are taking the first step we will continue to move down the path of living our most fulfilling lives.

    So don’t hold back. If you have interests; follow them. Opinions; express them. Questions: ask them. It’s the only way to evolve and not evolving is unnatural, that’s why you feel so bad when you are not being you.

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