"Insist upon yourself. Be original." - Ralph Waldo Emerson
One of my very popular scenester friends recently mentioned that she doesn't feel like she really fits into any situation. My response? "Good. You can't follow the trend if you are creating it."
Sometimes I feel like I'm a hexagon peg being slammed into a square hole. I don't fit, but it seems that if you just push hard enough I should. My background, my career, my education all suggest that I should fit into a very specific type of lifestyle, date a very certain type of guy, dress a very particular type of way and my world is filled with people who happily do just that. In reality, I just don't and I really don't want to. It's suffocating. It's unfulfilling. It's not working.
Standing out on your own is difficult, however. To be different is a huge risk. You have to truly believe in yourself to do it. You have to accept that conforming will never make you happy.
The bizarre twist is that quirky kids can never fit in. You might think you are hiding and conforming, but people will always sniff it out of you. I'm always a little shocked (but very pleased) when someone calls me trendy. I can't actually believe people see it in me. In my mind, I'm only showing about 50 percent...imagine what I could accomplish with 100 percent? Your talents are your quirks. Committing to them and developing them is how you succeed.
Think about people like Kanye West, Lady Gaga or the band of missfits that frequented Warhol's "The Factory." They are praised for their style and have fueled some of the biggest cultural revolutions, but, honestly, it's so difficult to picture yourself actually in their shoes, actually making those decisions for the first time. I couldn't possibly see myself in front of a changing room mirror and think "you know what this outfit is missing? A whole bunch of Kermit the Frog puppets." In evolution, it's always the chance oddity that furthers the species. The fact is that if enough people are swimming against the flow, the tide turns.
In 2011, I'm pushing myself to be more comfortable with my originality. It's the uniqueness that makes you interesting and the confidence in your own thoughts that catapults you ahead. Never apologize for being unusual. Apologize to yourself for hiding it until now. It's only at that point that you start to win.