It's an unfortunate fact that when we lack self-confidence the byproduct is that we're often afraid to be ourselves. We train ourselves to hide our own uniqueness so that we fit in to the mold that others have created for us. It's a shame because it really means that we don't like ourselves enough to show the world who we really are.
The good news is that as with most things in life, this too is circular in nature, and what goes around always comes around again. So as you start to build or re-build your confidence you are more willing to let your true self out to play. And the more you let your uniqueness show, the more self-confident you become.
Why is Being Unique So Important?
In a nutshell, it's important that we be ourselves because we were born for a specific purpose. And the more we deny that purpose and try to hide from it, the more unhappy and unhealthy we will be. Abraham Maslow said it best, I think:
“If you plan on being anything less than you are capable of, you will probably be unhappy all the days of your life.”
It's very hard to be happy when you don't feel comfortable being yourself.
When you're being your unique self, you'll find that you have more opportunities to help others and truly create lasting change in the world. People will be more apt to pay attention to the things you say and do if you are not so busy trying to make yourself become a part of the woodwork.
To put it simply, when you are being yourself you are living your purpose. You can't live your purpose and pretend to be someone else at the same time. It just doesn't work.
Finally, as a result of all the increased happiness and attention you get from being yourself, you also become more self-confident. Yes it takes some getting used to, but what I have found in the process of reclaiming my own self-confidence is that when I accept those pieces that make me the lovable weirdo that I am, it feels like coming home.
The circle comes into effect again because the more I feel at home in my own body, mind, and spirit, the more I stop trying to be someone else. And the more I start acting and being myself, the more confident I become and the more willing I am to put my uniquely weird self out there even more.
It all becomes quite fun. You smile more. Your health improves (at least this is my personal experience. Do Not take it as medical advice). You get more opportunities to do things that are uniquely suited to your life vision because you are aware of what that vision is!
“But what if I'm not ready yet?”
That's a common question, and one I asked for over ten years while I was busy trying to hide away from the world. To be honest, there is no easy answer. You just have to jump in and start living your life because if you don't other people will define you – and that is not a fun place to be in.
So with that in mind, here are a few baby steps you can start with to make flaunting what you've got a little easier.
Know your strengths and weaknesses and what makes you unique. Only when you know what makes you the original piece of work that you are can you truly flaunt it.
Related post: 7 Tips for Building Self-Awareness
Stop worrying about what other people think of you.
I can't think of a better way to say this than "get over yourself." People probably aren't paying nearly as much attention to you as what you think they are. This quote from Olin Miller sums it up pretty nicely:
“We probably wouldn't worry about what people think of us if we could know how seldom they do.”
That pretty much takes care of using what others think of us as an excuse to hide ourselves.
Never apologize for being unique
Finally, speak confidently and don't discount your opinions, especially when you are asked for them. You are being asked because someone is interested in what you have to say. Speak up, and never apologize for being who you are.
Your own style, made up as it is of what you wear, what music you listen to, what books you read and countless other pieces is part of what makes you the unique person you are today. You should never have to apologize or feel less than you are for being yourself.
These may seem like big steps to take, and I understand being afraid to take them because I've been there. You can do this, even if you have to practice by taking one small step at a time. Even if no one else notices but you, it's still a step toward claiming your own confidence and identity.
Once you get used to being yourself, you will be amazed by how much easier it is than always trying to fit in by being someone else. And remember...
“Make the most of yourself, for that is all there is of you.” ~ Ralph Waldo Emerson.
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