In almost any situation in life (and in art), I will stand behind the motto “be who you are”.
This can get a little bit complicated, as I’m sure you know. Most of our adolescence is spent learning how to act and how to present ourselves in the right light, in order to be on the right path. We learn to play the part of success because that is what everyone wants for their child (and for themselves). The problem is that success comes in infinite shades of grey and as we grow older, it gets more difficult to tell which shade is our own. You can spend your whole life trying to become some picture of perfection you had implanted in your head and suddenly realize one day that it is not you at all.
I do not mean to encourage complacency in place of growth, but instead to allow your inner voice to guide you more strongly than the voices of others. Your instincts will tell you that something is wrong when you are not staying true to your identity or passion – discomfort, hesitancy, fear… all warning signs forcing you to examine if it’s right for you. When you give all parts of yourself to a commitment, whether it is a relationship or a career, be sure that it embodies all that you want for yourself. If it doesn’t, then your voice will gradually fade away until very little of your original intent is left.
Trust me when I say I know how easily one can lost in a dead-end cycle; it can start out disguised as kindness, enthusiasm, or infatuation, then it gradually transforms into something that overtakes your life and overwhelms your identity. It begins to define you and dictate your behavior despite your varied interests or hopes to move beyond it. You know the story from there – the quarter or mid life crisis rears its ugly head and you realize that you’ve wasted time chasing after a dream that wasn’t your own and you no longer know what is or isn’t going to make you happy. I’ve been there. Have you?
“Be who you are” is the mantra that you must carry around in your pocket to all those job interviews, those networking events, those first dates, and really, everything. Don’t say you want something if you really don’t actually want it. Don’t say you love doing something if you actually dread it. Don’t make art that isn’t your own and don’t create a life that you don’t want for yourself. While you should remain gracious and refined, never bend over backwards to impress someone with a fake persona. It’s okay to be the person who you are; if they want someone who is not like you then it’s not the right fit. Your interactions should be a give and take so there’s no need to throw yourself to the floor for just any old opportunity. Present yourself genuinely and wholeheartedly, and then with persistence and patience you will find yourself attracting more of what you want out of life.
[ image via emmadime ]