Most bestselling books of all times talk about ‘How to be the next millionaire’ or ‘How to walk the path to being the next Steve Jobs or Richard Branson.’
Most people are in a race to fit into others’ shoes, to live life like others who can influence us or whom we idolise — in business or personal life.
In personal life, you may do many things that you dislike for the sake of your family or friends or any other relations. In your professional life, you more often than not, mask yourself to be someone whom either your boss or your clients or your business relations want you to be.
You may feel suffocated wearing a suit and looking sharp like a professional because you basically are a jeans and a T-shirt kind of a person. But you have to go on with that because your profession demands so and there’s no harm in that. But things get a little more complicated, when you are expected to behave differently at work and you end up suffering silently within, being who you are not.
“The biggest challenge in life is to be yourself in a world that is trying to make you like everyone else”
What’s wrong with that, you may ask. What’s wrong in being different at work than who you are at home? Isn’t that part of being a professional?
Of course, it is. When do you need to realise that you are living the life of a person who you are not? And when do things have to change?
The answer is simple. If you have to change who you are so that people will like you, then I would suggest, “Don’t change. Don’t change so people will like you. Be yourself and the right people will like the real you.” If you are wondering if this can happen at work, then yes, it definitely can happen at work.
If you are trying to fake being someone, you can’t be not caught. People around you are as smart as you or if not more. Most often people can clearly distinguish between fair actions and faked actions. The timing may differ, meaning people may realise a little later than when you act, but eventually truth will be out.
And things can get to be every bit of an embarrassment for you. While that’s one part of it, the other and the more important is whether you are living to the fullest by the pretension or the mask you put on to impress others.
Does it give you joy and the sense of security? Do you feel like you have achieved what you are set out for? Most of those whom I have met in such circumstances aren’t and they are constantly looking for a way of coming out. They feel suffocated and frustrated.
Never change who you are so that other people will appreciate you. Just be yourself and the right people will find and like you just for being yourself. Let people see the real, imperfect, flawed, quirky, weird, beautiful and magical person that you are. Trust me, magic happens then.
As much as you think that people expect perfection from you, no one is perfect. If you are sincere, dedicated and hard-working, most people do understand that the success or failure is controlled by many other factors. If they don’t, then probably they are not the right company for you.
Some even take things a little further to impress others like pretending to work late to impress the boss or even borrow stuff to impress your partner on a date. Don’t chase people, be yourself, do your own thing, and work hard. The right people, the ones who really belong to your life, will come to you and stay.
The other biggest mistake that most of us do is to compare ourselves with others. We start comparing our cars with others who are driving bigger and faster cars, we compare our bodies with those who are fitter and stronger, we compare the luxuries we have or don’t have with those who have luxuries.
And we don’t stop at that. We constantly mess up our own lives wondering how others have what we don’t have, or how happy our life would be if we had all those luxuries. Trust me, if you are among them, then you are one of those who will never be happy in life, because whatever you achieve, you are going to find someone who has more than you.
Don’t compare yourself with others, you are not a copy, you are an original. Craft your own individuality and sense of style and just be yourself.
One of the best days in your life is when you stop caring what everyone else thinks about you and you start caring about being yourself. To be happy means to be yourself. You don’t need to be accepted by others. You need to accept yourself. When you don’t do that, then you let other’s ignorance, hate, drama or negativity stop you from being the best person you can be.
Remember your life is too short to live someone else’s dreams. If you want to be trusted, be honest. If you want to be honest, be true. If you want to be true, be yourself. And never apologise for being yourself. Be yourself and be proud of it.
Sriram is the founder and chief mentor of Kuza Biashara Limited, a capacity building organisation coaching youth and SME owners across Africa. @Sbharatam or firstname.lastname@example.org