Friday, May 30, 2014

The Power of You

Always be a first rate version of yourself and not a second rate version of someone else.
-Judy Garland

We all have people we want to emulate. Something about them inspires us- their confidence, their ability, their humor, their energy. Whatever it is, we see something special and different about them and we want it for ourselves. It seems the best way to attain what they have is to study them, rehearse them, and then try to be just like them. That seems like it makes sense at first. The only problem is that it inevitably fails. Why? Because we’re not them.
It kind of reminds me of when I first became a counselor. I was so anxious about doing everything right and being just like the professors who taught me, that I struggled to just be with a client and relate like a normal human being. I was stiff and awkward and spent more time acting like a counselor than just being one. I’m not sure when it shifted for me, but eventually I let go and decided to be myself. I related to clients the way I would a friend or family member. I started integrating my style of humor wrought with hyperbole and dry wit. If a client told me something ridiculous, I would laugh at/with them and reply with a loving, smart aleck quip just like I would with a friend. Of course, this would depend on the person and the presenting issue. I would never make light of someone’s pain. But the point is, once I became a real person in the room, once I was me, people responded favorably.

I mention this only because I’m faced with a similar situation as I return to the creative arts. When it comes to music and dance I feel that pull again to mimic people I really admire. If I could just bottle up the best qualities of each of my role models and imbibe a potion of all of their awesomeness, I would be good to go. But if I’ve learned anything about human nature, it’s that people don’t want another copycat. We inherently distrust incongruence. The antennas go up when something about a person doesn’t seem genuine. We want to know you actually are who you say you are. You’ll be hard pressed to convince someone you’re genuine if you’re working overtime to be someone else.

What I’m realizing is this. Authenticity reigns supreme. Embrace all your quirks and idiosyncrasies. Wear them like a badge of honor. Embrace your way of connecting and relating in the world. People will appreciate you for it because you’re being yourself. We each have a unique light. It doesn’t matter if someone does that exact same thing we do. When we approach it we breathe a whole new life and energy to it because there is no one else like us. But that only happens when you stop spending your time trying to be someone else and you recognize the power of you.

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