How to Stand Out In A World That’s Okay With You Fitting In

I remember being a tween and well into my teenage years I loved looking in fashion magazines. I was tall and lean and adorable (hehe) and everyone would tell me I should model. I looked to the fashion magazines to see what I would wear if in fact I could ever become a model.

I was an only child but not spoiled. I knew my mom worked hard for every dime she brought in that house and I felt like begging for clothes was pointless. But my mom knew as a young girl I needed and wanted clothes so sometimes I’d come home to shopping bags on the bed and I’d excitingly rush over and see what was inside. Needless to say it wasn’t what was in those fashion magazines or to my surprise even what my friends were wearing.

I didn’t want to appear ungrateful so I would smile and say thank you and try them on anyways. My mom used to dress me for my height and size with clothes that fit well and looked good on me. However my appreciation for them at the time was little to none because it wasn’t the clothes my friends were wearing.

I wanted so desperately to show up with the hottest shoes, jacket or anything! I remember her saying “Oh that looks so good on you Re, you don’t have to wear what everyone is wearing.” It’s that talk that parents give you when they’re trying to give  you a confidence boost and I knew it so I dealt with it.

I distinctly remember one day in high school wearing this fringe grey shawl over my uniform with black heely boots and my teacher saying how great I looked in it. I began to realize on the days I wore those crazy clothes I got a lot of compliments+ from the women in my life who weren’t just saying it to say it like my mom but really meant it. I did look good in things that others couldn’t and weren’t pulling off and that made me feel good.

Why did I have this desperate need to fit in? Did I think that people would love me more? Sure I did and most teens do. It didn’t matter. I was a stand out kind of girl and that wasn’t going to change. I was a leader and I had a distinction not only in height but in heart.

I had to learn (which happened over time) to just embrace my difference and learn that my difference would be my distinction. When I got old enough to buy my own clothes I remember trying to stick to things that would help me stand out but a little feeling inside of me still wanted to wear the latest.

In college my friends and I had created a club and all bought jackets from the local store that we got screen printed up. Here I was again at 18 still resorting to my old ways. The jacket fit everyone so nicely but whose jacket stopped halfway through her arm? Mine! I didn’t fit that jacket well, not even in a large. So I used to pretend to just roll the sleeves up because I was in this group and I belonged!

Every time I looked at the little jacket in the closet I knew it didn’t fit and I hated it because it didn’t fit. I had to remember what I knew in my heart to be true, your difference is your distinction.

So I stopped wearing it. Was I still apart of the group? YES! Did they still love me? YES!

It’s this silly feeling in our minds that tricks us into believing that it’s things that’ll make us feel the way we desire to feel. It’s this silly notion that if we do XYZ and that we will be XYZ.

If there’s anything that I’ve learned over the years it’s that we are not a result of the things we’ve done but people remember us because of WHO we are. WHO we are does shape our actions but not the other way around. You can learn to stand out by focusing on WHO you are!

Who are you besides your name? Besides male or female? Besides your job? Besides your circle?

Write it down! I am______.

Here’s mine: I am a life giver, cultivator, nurturer, ambitious, brave, hopeful, faithful, considerate, queen, creative, and generous. I could go on and on but do you see what I mean? Tell me the core of who you are. I can see all of these attributes in all of the professional and personal titles I’ve held. That’s because it’s WHO I am. I was born with them and they don’t change.

When I embrace them I strengthen them, when I stray from them I create confusion for myself. If you really want to stand out, embrace your difference (WHO you are) and let it be your distinction (DEFINE the work you do).

Share your I AM statement in the comments.

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