3 September 2007, 12:30
I receive a lot of email about how to be yourself when people around you — parents, friends, teachers, workmates — feel the need to bug you about what you’re wearing or how you look. Girls email me & say, “I wish I could dye my hair a crazy colour but I think I would get so much trouble that it’s not worth it”. Boys explain, “I love to get dressed up & make an effort with my appearance, & it’s really hard when everyone around me tells me I look crazy”.
Let me tell you a little something. Being ‘different’ is always harder than being ‘normal’ & fitting in, towing the line. There is always more effort involved. Any schmuck can wear jeans & comb their hair & be a lemming. It takes someone with guts & a bit of a twist to do something different. Which side you take is totally up to you, but I guess it would be slightly biased of me to say that being on the ‘weird’ side is a lot more fun…
I have always been a bit of a nut. When I was 13 & discovered the internet, my whole life really changed. I stopped torturing myself by listening to the radio & started to seek out music I actually LIKED. I went a bit goth. I would catch the bus into the city & wear a pair of silver angel wings strapped to my back all day. It was during this time that I learned how difficult it was to be weird, but also how much value there was in it. Getting on the bus where I lived was always an ordeal, regardless of how I dressed. Even when I was a ‘normal’ dresser, there were still hordes of teenagers sitting in the back seats, ready to jeer or berate anyone who they didn’t instantly like the look of. While I & my image changed, they didn’t. I realised it didn’t matter HOW I looked, I would still get the same response. So I thought, to hell with them. I’ll do what I want. Why should I bow to someone else?
As you can imagine, a 14 year old girl wearing black & angel wings got a lot of attention. The strangest thing, to me anyway, was that most of the attention was positive. The people who I thought would be most vehemently negative — adults — were actually the opposite. They would stop me in the street to say how great I looked, & how I had brightened up their day. Just by being me, just by dressing how I wanted to.
Does anyone ever have that effect by wearing a pair of jeans & a t-shirt?
Hopefully, this knowledge will help give you some confidence when it comes to wearing something a bit risky or a bit ‘out there’. Of couse, building confidence is really important for all kinds of scenarios. Here are some ways to work on it:
Realise how amazing you are. There will never be anyone like you. That’s why it is so important to express yourself as much as you can — if you don’t, the world will miss out. Develop your talents. If you love to write or paint or sing or add numbers together, do it more often! This will naturally make you feel good about yourself.
Learn to love & accept yourself. Truly, this is the most crucial thing. I know it sounds corny & lame, but hating yourself is much higher on the corn-&-lame-o-meter. It can be really hard to do this, so I suggest using EFT. (It changed my life, I will never stop advocating its use!)
Learn how to avoid creeps. It sounds crazy but it works, without fail, every time. It is a fantastic energy management technique.
Accept compliments with grace. Even (& especially!) if you don’t believe what the compliment-giver has said! Just say, “Thank you”, even though you might want to blurt out “Oh how wrong you are!”. People tell you nice things because they want to make you feel good. Why would they waste their breath telling you a lie? Eventually, you will begin to believe it when people praise you.
Choose a role-model, & think “What would ______ do?”. Then act accordingly! Madonna is my role-model of the moment, but you might like to use Cary Grant, James Bond, Elizabeth Taylor, Anna Wintour, or one of your parents. (I often channel my mother or father in social situations.)
Stick up for yourself. Don’t put up with those nasty people who make a joke out of being awful to everyone else. It’s tragic & it makes you feel awful. Change your social group if you have to — it will make an enormous improvement to the quality of your life. (Read this for more info.)
Rehearse in your head. If you’re nervous about phonecalls, job interviews or general conversations, rehearse them alone. I do this all the time, I can’t help myself! It definitely helps.
Finally, the (seemingly) superficial things. Think about your body language & posture. Straighten your back, drop your shoulders & hold your head high. Kooky as it sounds, this will automatically give you confidence. When you talk to people, look them in the eye as much as possible. If you’re freaked out by the concept of hearing what other people might be saying about you, wear headphones while you walk around.
Remember that other people’s opinions of you are NONE OF YOUR BUSINESS! (If I worried about what everyone else thought, I’d never get anything done…)
Other people who have said it better…
“The reward for conformity is that everyone likes you but yourself.” — Rita Mae Brown
“The opposite of bravery is not cowardice but conformity.” — Robert Anthony
“The only fundamental rule for me is to just be yourself. Let your freak-flag fly, and if someone doesn’t get you, move on.” — Drew Barrymore
“Is life not a thousand times too short for us to bore ourselves?” — Friedrich Nietzsche