Our sense of individuality increases with age, as the pressure to belong decreases. Until recently, I thought this revival journey occurred once, usually during teenage years or young-adulthood. Now, I see that similar obstacles can creep up again, in different forms, depending on life changes, circumstance and challenges. Naturally, humans want to feel accepted, admired and loved. Well, I can speak for myself at least … particularly in creativity, arts and education.
Those who knew me before, would agree that with the exception of my core personality, I am not the same person (in a good way!). Maturing – letting go of insecurities and carefully choosing my friends – played a huge role. Despite all of that, there isn’t a day I don’t remind myself…to be myself.
From arts to education, I would choose things that would paint a “better me”, a “cooler me”, or so I think…. And only in due time would I realize that I am not exactly enjoying what I am doing. And because of that, the task or project becomes difficult, boring or plain dreadful. I also find that, the ability, capability or skill of doing something, can be very dangerous, as it can trick you into thinking you’re on the right path, when you’re really not…
So important questions are:
Am I truly enjoying this ?
Do I naturally gravitate towards that subject?
Could I be doing this on my free time at home, for free, and for no one to ever witness?
I found the above quote on Tumblr, and as cliché as “be yourself” quotes can get (sometimes even annoying), I still like how realistic yet comforting the message is. Again, I am speaking from the artistic, academic or generally creative point of view. Whatever you chose, there will be a niche or fans for it. On the flip side, there will also be critics and haters. But that’s inescapable. So you might as well love what you’re doing, and be a natural at it.
Being yourself can be difficult. I am currently debating whether I am studying a particular subject out of genuine interest or because of its ‘intelligent’ appeal. Even the dancer side of me has struggled in the past with identity; I would look at other types of dancers and would aim to emulate them…. but with time and soul-searching, I’d realize that my true element was to be found elsewhere. Not from someone else, but from experience and honesty with myself.
Times of self-assessment or what I call ‘be yourself check-ins’ do come in different periods throughout life. We are bombarded by ideals, influence and all types of role models, and we may not even be aware that we are trying to conform to a certain status quo.
The artists, entrepreneurs, writers (etc…) who stand out are those who followed their hearts. Another cliché yes, but true, and not easy to do. When the world thought the earth was flat, it’s hard to think outside the box and declare that perhaps it is round. It’s hard to accept that you are gravitating towards something that seems unpopular or weird. It’s hard to admit that perhaps, you should drop doing what looks right and do what actually feels right.
I once heard, often times, the hard thing do and the right thing to do are one and the same.