Different by Design
I took this photo months ago. I’m 38, and Ive never posted a picture of me taken by me with a serious expression, that didn’t pair with a goofy self-defeating caption that promised others that they won’t have to judge because I’ve beat them to it.
One of my biggest challenges is taking myself seriously, which of course manifests itself in all kinds of self sabotage-y ways. Hell, half the time I can’t even execute sarcasm without this annoying half chuckle that I habitually deploy as a “just kidding” type of disclaimer.
In the subtle moments when glimmers of myself become more apparent than others, I’ve been told I exude authenticity and bravery, but I’ve dismissed the comments as placations or even as “good job, that was less disastrous than it could have been.” Negative self talk can run deep.
I second guessed my every move professionally and personally and “running things by someone” became a reflex before acting on anything. To the point that if I didn’t feel comfortable asking for feedback, I’d often trash my idea, taking my own hesitance as a clear measure of its worth.
It was easier to swim with the current and blend in with the crowd, because any misstep would easily disguised by my surroundings or seen as merely a point of common connection with anyone else’s timely mistake, easy to laugh off, forget, and move on. This works to an extent. The inertia of the crowd moves you, and as long as you’re keeping up with the herd, you’re fine.
The problem is i spent so much time quantifying my mistakes, that I failed to celebrate the successes, or worse I saw the successes as mere compensation for the times I fell short of expectations (my own and others). Just enough to balance an appraisal for ones performance and not tip the scales towards “easily replaceable”
But what happens when you suddenly realize that you’ve exhausted your energy trying to blend in, and keep up, when in reality you were born to stand out and different from the rest. You are different by design.
Today marks the day that I step away from the crowd and start swimming upstream. Today marks the day I start to take myself seriously.