There have been more than a few times in my life when I have said something or spoken my mind that made me “unpopular”. You would think that I would learn. Learn to keep my mouth shut. Learn to be more diplomatic. Learn to say the things that people want to hear, rather than say the things that I feel need to be said. But, yet I seem to have a knack of saying and doing things that make me “unpopular”.
I just can’t seem to help myself from being true to who I am. And each time, I’ve done or said something that seems to polarize the status quo; I beat myself up for it. You would think I would learn. After listening to this TED talk this morning, I have learned. And what I have learned is that maybe I’ve been trying to appeal to the wrong demographic.
In the talk, speaker Erika Napoletano, states: “We spend our lives trying to build ourselves into something that other people think that we should be, when in fact we should be spending our time trying to actively polarize our audience. Give them tools to help them know whether or not they should love us and give it early and give it often. Because that’s when we stop wasting time, both ours and every one else’s”. Erika went on to say some things that really resonated with me because she was being perfectly honest.
I am a creative being – a photographer, a filmmaker, a writer and an explorer of what the world has in store. After listening to Erika’s talk, I realized that I have wasted an awful lot of time and effort trying to appeal to the wrong demographic – the “popular” and the “majority”. When I think about the things that I have created that I am most proud of, and that have been the most gratifying, I realize that every one of those triumphs have come when I’ve been honest and true to myself. In other words – I’m at my best, when I stop apologizing for who I am and instead, I embrace it.
So, when I wake up on those mornings after I’ve beaten myself black and blue for being who I am, I try to remember that “being myself” is better than the alternative – trying to politely appeal to the “popular” crowd. While, it may be easier to fall in step with the “status quo”, it is not only counter-productive to being true to oneself, it stifles creativity.
It’s tough to stay true to oneself in a society that often teaches us to favor politeness over honesty but at the end of the day, it’s far more rewarding.
“Here’s to the Crazy Ones. The misfits. The rebels. The troublemakers. The round pegs in the square holes. The ones who see things differently”. Steve Jobs