Like American poet and activist Ralph Waldo Emerson once said, “To be yourself in a world that is constantly trying to make you something else is the greatest accomplishment.”
The truth is, being themselves is what most people fear, perhaps more than venomous snakes, dizzying heights or addressing a gathering in public. We’re always censoring ourselves, afraid of being judged for following a passion and we mask our emotions. “People have a fear of stepping up. They fear embarrassing themselves,” explains Heather Broderick a Dubai-based wellness and mindset coach.
People have a fear of stepping up. They fear embarrassing themselves. They fear failure. It could also stem from a culture that doesn't allow them to come forward without judgement...
This could also be fueled by a culture that doesn’t allow them to come forward without judgement, she explains. There is a perpetual fear of failure, which destroys people’s confidence further, says Broderick. As a result, they hide from themselves and live inauthentic lives. This farcical form of living, has a variety of negative consequences, including fractured self-esteem, and a perpetual feeling of an unfulfilled life.
How to embrace uniqueness with confidence
Like the old saying goes, be yourself. Everyone else is taken.
One way to ensure happiness and success in your personal and professional life, is by embracing your uniqueness. And while you do so, you need to build your confidence, according to Broderick. Uniqueness doesn’t just only mean being different; it means having the confidence to trust yourself and your gut too. Look inwards to seek validation.
You need to believe in the choices that you make, and moreover, stop comparing yourself to others. If you keep comparing yourself to others standards of success, you lose your own measure of individuality. You set unrealistic goals for yourself, and you’re chasing someone else’s vision of success. Success doesn’t only have to mean a well-paying job, says Broderick. It is subjective, and means different things to people.
So, what sets you apart?
Find your ‘genius zone’
Kai Simmonds, Dubai-based wellness expert and life coach breaks it down. You have to understand what your “zone of genius”, she says. In other words, what are the skills that you possess that set you apart from others? “We all have them and learning how to embrace it will not only make you shine at work, but also lead to more enjoyment and fulfillment,” she explains. This also aids in preventing burnout and exhaustion.
“One of the biggest things that I see when it comes to burnout is that people aren’t doing enough of the things that they enjoy, that bring them a sense of fulfillment,” she says. By focusing on what sets you apart, you contribute to your work with skills and assets that you possess, which is combined with other’s uniqueness. “This creates a productive and co-operative working environment, where everyone gets their time to shine and work together, instead of against each other,” says Simmonds.
Simmonds puts forward several questions that one needs to ask themselves. “What are some things that come easily to you, but are hard for others? What do people usually ask you for help with? What’s something that you enjoy doing and wish you could do more of?”
What are some things that come easily to you, but are hard for others? What do people usually ask you for help with? What’s something that you enjoy doing and wish you could do more of?
Asking yourself these questions helps you understand your skills and allows you to play to your strengths.
Entering the flow state
For example, cooking. Most people lose themselves in the moment when they’re cooking. They enjoy cutting, sautéing vegetables and experimenting with different spices, and you get a delicious meal at the end of it all.
It’s not a simple job; it requires honing skills and learning what to mix, and what not to mix. And, how to solve the problem if you add a little too much of an ingredient like salt. When you’re so immersed in an activity, you’re in the “flow state”, explains Simmonds. “It’s a sign we're doing something we love and there's a sense of effortlessness which means these activities don't exhaust us and we can do more of it,” she says. This “hyper-focus” is one way of identifying your “zone of genius”, as you find that you’re able to do this much more easily than other things. Another instance is, do you enjoy assembling furniture? If you do, this means that you are good at spatial awareness, problem-solving, and can enter the “flow state”, explains Simmonds. Once you realise these unique skills and talents, you can build on contributing cohesively to your personal and professional spheres.
There will always be pitfalls on the way.
The journey to uniqueness cannot be taken overnight; you need to see what your strengths, weaknesses and passions are. This process of self-discovery also involves accepting and taking responsibility for mistakes, rather than being suffering deep disappointments when something fails. “Learn from feedback,” says Broderick. There’s no failure when you make mistakes, which is something people need to remind themselves, she says. The real failure is only when you just give up and stop trying to achieve your goals.
Don’t get complacent
No doubt, we’re overjoyed when a dream comes true. It feels difficult to move on from that sense of exhilaration. However, you can’t afford to be complacent, as experts explain. Success can trick people into thinking that they’re invincible. And so, they become complacent, which hampers their path to further achievements and goals. In order to avoid this, you need to cultivate the mindset that allows you to stay grounded, seek feedback from your friends and colleagues. This pushes you forward to take risks and be more innovative. And so, you still stand apart.