One of the toughest challenges many of us face as teenagers is meshing with our peer groups. How we look, the color of our skin, any physical characteristics, all of these have a part to play. It can be excruciating if we vary from the norm. And when we don’t fit in, essentially we are standing out. We want to be accepted. However, the word ‘uniform’ is actually a pretty unattractive concept.
Why on earth do we all want to look exactly like one another? I’m not referring to a school uniform, although for a bunch of years I wore one. It seems more to me that we are to be uniform in our views, how we express ourselves, and we need to ‘get the look.”
What the hey! Get the look…of someone else…so I am just a look alike? What’s up with that? I remember trying both to fit in and of course, at my way above average height, I always stood out. Getting anybody else’s look was a futile effort. With some embarrassment, I did try a few small things, which were notably unsuccessful. So I didn’t want to be different or stand out.
Until later. At some point I had become aware enough of diverse environments that I was willing to risk being different. I began to be educated about life, and its different facets, and how individuals have different personas. Risking being different takes a level of self-confidence that can be hard won. The balance between standing out and fitting in varies from person to person. It can be a definite struggle.
Recently I was with a group of women who are all accomplished leaders but their self-images varied markedly. Some felt fully empowered and just wanted some directional advice for next steps. Others were still struggling to not make waves, to fit in.
What I have discovered is that we sometimes impose our own limits on standing out, or even more to the point, standing up for who and what we are. We can all help each other in achieving our particular goals. What we don’t want to do is to impose our views on other women. What we view as standing out in a good way may be too aggressive for some. So, let’s be sure we listen to each other, that we truly tune in to each other.
Our own path is the right path. Ultimately we know where we want to go and who we want to be in the end. Have you had a recent change in your life where you were more able to stand out and stand up for who you are?