I hear a lot about the need to “brand” myself—to create a clear, crisp, lean message/image of who I am and what I do. I can despair as I attempt this. I feel too quirky, too idiosyncratic to make myself easily understood. My wide range of passions, talents, and attributes don’t fit together in any conventional way. Will I ever be able to create something that resonates in the marketplace?
Lately, I’m comforted with new thoughts. If the world seeks to put us in a box, our own originality will always defy this. Great artists and thinkers can resist the crush toward conformity by either creating work that is easily accessible (bestsellers and blockbusters) or creating work that won’t be appreciated for a very long time. I may not be talented enough to do either type of great work, but at least I know that my eccentricity isn’t the problem.
If we give ourselves the chance to fully blossom, we will develop wonderfully novel personalities. Since we are always under pressure to conform, it may take decades to develop our unique character. But adults who follow their passions and talents will create a singular template that is a gift to the world. I am realizing that my own gifts may only be seen or appreciated by a few (hopefully). But this is important (despite our culture’s worship of fame and acclaim).
As children, we come into the world in a certain time, place, and circumstance. But as soon as we’re planted in our immediate environment (family, neighborhood, school), we begin to have an utterly unique experience of life. Even identical twins see the world through their own solitary lens.
This idea consoles me. We will each, like the drawing above, start out with peers and siblings but life’s events and our particular temperament will twist and bend us. We will develop an utterly novel perspective on life. Can we cherish our originality instead of denying our rare and beautiful gifts? Can we develop ourselves fully instead of trying to be like everyone else?
What is my unique contribution to the world? © 2009 Laura Lewis-Barr all rights reserved