“Why fit in when you were born to stand out?” — Dr. Seuss
I would sometimes feel like a wind-up doll when I worked in corporate sales. It was always: Smile, show up, nod, say yes, make everyone like you. It wasn’t just because I wanted to be liked (because hey, we all want that, don’t we?), but my job depended on it. Because when it comes to selling, people only do business with people they like.
As I transitioned from a Sales Director to a Life Coach, I naturally became more myself. It was a gradual transition, and it taught me a lot about the power of being yourself. I was no longer able to hide behind a Fortune 500 company’s name and prestige, I was… me. Just Susie. It was thrilling and terrifying at the same time.
In coaching hundreds of people (and having my own business to navigate as a human being and “personal brand”), I’ve come to realize the value of not everyone getting you. Here are five reasons I’ve discovered it’s okay when people don’t understand, like, or appreciate you for who you are, as you are.
1. Successful people typically don’t blend in. Look at Lena Dunham, Adele, Martha Stewart, Mindy Kaling, Amy Schumer, Sheryl Sandberg. They are not yes-women. They all have haters too. But what do they care?
We still love them — or some of them — because they are who they are and what they stand for. They are unapologetic about being themselves. That’s why we talk about them. Read their books. Watch their TV shows. Buy tickets to their events. We, in short, pay attention to what they’re doing, and we enjoy a slice of it. Their uniqueness is why they thrive (and how we even discovered them in the first place).
2. It means you’re actually doing something. If you stand for something, go against the grain in any area of your life, or have a point of view that can feel unpopular, it means you’re probably taking action in some way. You’re not just sitting at your desk or sofa agreeing with everything you hear, see, and consume. That’s good! It’s what makes the world colorful. The world needs doers and people who think differently.
3. You inspire others. For every person who feels misunderstood, there are a thousand other people out there just like them. When I wanted to quit my pretty lucrative career, my corporate colleagues thought I was nuts. Maybe I was.
But I kept focusing on women who owned their girlboss-ness, and they motivated me by showing me what was possible. I interviewed Sara Blakely (billionaire founder of Spanx), Arianna Huffington, Kris Jenner, and Bethenny Frankel. I paid attention to what female entrepreneurs were achieving in New York City, where I live. These women weren’t the majority by any stretch, but they existed. And they inspired me more than a million naysayers could.
4. You get to “your people” faster. This is a beautiful truth. When you’re real about who it is that you are, you’re like a magnet to those similar to you. When I became a full-time business owner, my circle rapidly expanded to other entrepreneurial women who I had a lot in common with. There are plenty of people who WILL get you (and adore you) once you can just get around them. The same goes for my clients: Creative types, entrepreneurs and ambitious side hustlers are my people! It’s good for my business too.
Think: Where could your people be? Options and opportunities are everywhere when you open your eyes (and Google) and look!
5. You have the freedom to be yourself. There is perhaps no greater comfort in this world than knowing you are true to who you are. Period.
Not everyone is going to like you or understand you. Newsflash: That’s okay! It’s about accepting the gifts you were born with and embracing them.
Because no one is you, and that is your power.