Hump Day Headspace: Don't let your role model rule you
July 26, 2017
On Monday, I shared an Instagram post talking about the oh-so-common problem of comparing yourself to others via social media. In response, I received a wave of wise and graciously affirming responses including one with the popular quote: "comparison is the thief of joy." This quote had actually already been deemed my quote of the week — and now it's got me thinking.
I think our role models are bullies.
I know, who would have thought sweet grandpa George and Carrie Fisher had it in them? To be fair, I don't think they know they're bullying us.
Odds are your role model is incredible: strong, smart, gracious, talented, humble, brave, whatever else it is you crave to be. But the truth of the matter is you're not going to be that person. You're never going to be that person because you are you. You can be a strong, smart, gracious, talented, humble, brave, whatever — and sure, those might be traits you were inspired to work towards because of that role model — but you're still you. Trying to be anything less will leave you exhausted and wanting. Yes your role model rules ...but do you let them rule you?
I am notoriously bad at buying things ...well some things. (Please ignore the amount of peanut butter in my cabinets and wine bottles in my recycling bin. These items are strictly excluded as they are essentials) I am bad at buying anything over $70. My own ear could fall off and when the doctor tells me it's going be $100 to replace, I'd probably ask to sleep on it (not literally. I don't think they let you test out prosthetic ears even though they really should*) and then I'd go home to make a pro/con list. Pro: Can hear music and laughing babies again. Con: Less money for wine. As you can imagine, my con lists tend to look very similar regardless of the issue.
I recently purchased some new camera equipment but not, of course, without plenty of prior research. Part of this research included asking a bad-ass young entrepreneur and female small business owner, Autumn Theodore Photography, for her opinion. Our conversation quickly turned from photography hacks to the many lessons Autumn has learned as a growing business owner in a creative field. One piece of advice that stuck out to me was this: "If you want to be inspired creatively, don't follow creatives that are in your specific industry."
At first, I found this surprising. Don't I need to be in-the-know? Don't I want to know what's on-trend and new? But then I thought about it... No. I really don't. At least not at the constant rate that social media feeds. If all we do is stay on-trend then are we really doing anything new or noteworthy? Are you being you or are you being on-trend?
This idea goes far beyond creatives and small business owners; you are not a reflection of something or someone else. You are not a replica. You are a collection of influences, experiences, and (believe it or not) original thought. Your role models are fantastic but they're not you. Let their influences become a part of your story and then continue writing. You are a sequel, not the re-write. Spend less time focusing on the people you want to be like and more time focusing on people who want you to be you.