While enjoying bubble tea in Greenville with one of my MBA friends this morning, we discussed our career plans and he paraphrased a Steven Spielberg quote that guides him. He said in order to be successful, we can either aim to be the best or aim to be different. This quote really stuck with me because more often than not, I am focusing on striving to be my personal best, which is a great objective, but I can also take pride in being different. Each of us has our own individual strengths that we can contribute to the world. This is what makes us inspirNational, seeing and offering new perspectives to the world. Rather than directing ourselves to follow the herd and the path others expect us to take, we should dare to be different.
Throughout the first few weeks of my summer internship, I have learned that being different has allowed me to stand out, meet genuine friends, and try new things. While conforming to our job’s cultural norms or our home’s cultural norms is part of society, we should also stay true to ourselves and contribute our diverse experiences to the community around us.
One little way that I dare to be different is to wear accessories that tell my story. I have received compliments on what I have been wearing, and it has been so fun to tell my peers the unique stories about each of my accessories. For example, I have a pair of black and white newspaper-patterned sandals that I designed as a Christmas gift from my first employer, which I have been able to describe and tell them about the newspaper connection to my interest in writing. I have also worn my butterfly necklace and earrings, which I purchased in the Monteverde cloud forest in Costa Rica, and have been able to tell people about my adventurous trip to Costa Rica and interest in travel, speaking Spanish, and sustainability.
Another way I dare to be different is to try new hobbies that spark my interest. Over the past week, I have gone boating in the Charleston harbor, experienced my second wine and painting class, attended my first barre class, bought my first adult coloring book (finally joining the decade’s trend for adults :), and started my first indoor vegetable garden. Most people succumb to labels and say they are a runner, a foodie, a golfer, a hunter, etc. I have realized that I am not the kind of person to do just one hobby – I am creating my own label as citizen of the world who likes to experience new things and be local wherever I am visiting or living. If that means hiking, I’ll hike. If that means painting, I’ll paint. I know I like to be active, healthy, creative, and social, so as long as the hobby meets one of those objectives, I am willing to try anything with anyone.
I am also working to spend more time alone, allowing myself to reflect and listen to the inner voice that guides my happiness and life direction. Tuning into our inner voice grounds us and encourages to follow our own path, despite what the external noise and societal pressures may tell us. It is also important to make sure the environment where we spend our alone time inspires us and allows us to feel true happiness. I have discovered that my personal happy space can be in any beautiful nature scene, the greener the better, or inside listening to music with no agenda. My goal has been to make sure I give myself time for these personal happy spaces every week, and ideally for at least a short amount of time every day.
Finally I am daring to be different by offering a smile and compliment to everyone I meet. Throughout my life I have been told that I am so positive and cheerful all of the time, which was originally phrased and received as criticism, but I am now changing my mindset. I have realized that there is so much negativity and sarcasm in the world, and it’s about time that we have a few people who stand up for optimism and genuity. I have noticed that all the executives and leaders I have met across organizations have an aura of optimism, confidence, and genuine connections with others. To the “haters” out there, this is food for thought as we determine our career ambitions and role in society. As the common quote says, those who are crazy enough to think that their ideas and dreams are possible (and are optimistic about them) will be the ones who achieve them.
How will you dare to be different?