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What is something you love to do but are embarrassed to share with the world? If everyone finds out about this hobby, they will think you’re weird, strange, or make fun of you. My word of advice to you all is to own it. Don’t be afraid to be yourself and think that “no one else likes this.” Stop allowing fear to keep you from living your best life. Labels don’t define who we are as people and too many times we get boxed in by these labels. These types of thoughts prevent you from completely owning your identity. Let’s examine a couple factors that could be at play that could prevent you from doing this.
Comparing Yourself to Others
The first way I will discuss that can prevent us from owning our own identity is comparing ourselves to others. “Stop comparing yourself to someone else’s highlight reel” is a quote I love to share with others. Social media is a perfect example where we see this happening. You often see what others will post on Facebook, Instagram, etc. If the person buys their child the latest gadgets, you may find yourself comparing yourself to their lives and ask “why am I not doing this”? When this happens, you may start feeling down about yourself and self-doubt can creep in your thought process. Anxiety can begin to build by asking yourself “what-if” questions. Once this happens, you may start going down the rabbit hole of questioning who you are as a person.
It is important to avoid this by examining your own strengths and interests. I am reminding everyone that reads this, you have something to offer the world. We all have unique talents and interests. The people on Instagram who post pictures of them backpacking in Europe have their own trials and tribulations in their own lives. How they choose to spend their time or the way they think will be different than you and that is okay. If you identify as being a gay man then own that. Do you want to become a body builder? Great, just set a goal and pursue your dreams. Are you in an activity like theater that isn’t traditionally a masculine thing to do? Who cares. It is what you enjoy and you identify this as something that is part of your life.
If you are going to compare yourselves to anyone, compare yourself to the version you were the day before. Were you the best version of yourself today? If not, what can be done tomorrow that will help you achieve that? I believe those are the questions that will help us define ourselves. Remember, we are ultimately responsible for our own happiness and that begins with recognizing our own identity.
The importance of owning your identity is critical to your happiness. From time to time, people witness a phenomena called group think. Group think is a concept where people in a group will conform with an idea even if it is an irrational way of behaving or a non-optimal way of thinking. The first thought that pops up in our head when we think about this concept are kids bullying or doing something they shouldn’t be doing. However, adults are just as guilty of this as well.
For example, you might be sitting at your desk and three of your coworkers are talking about the upcoming company party at the ski lodge. They may believe it is stupid because “no one skis”. You actually ski every opportunity you get and love doing it. This puts you in a bind because you don’t want to seem like the odd person out. You might think to yourself, “why wouldn’t that person speak up if they actually like it”?
While that is part of that person’s identity, the person may feel some type of anxiety. This is especially true if this is someone that they highly value their opinion. Maybe a person who is criticizing the ski trip is a person they want to impress for a promotion. There are so many different scenarios that may prevent you from owning the fact you love skiing. From that point forward, self-doubt may creep in around those folks. You may believe you can’t be fully comfortable who you are in those situations. That can be very damaging to a person psychologically.
While I am a confident person, I have had these experiences. Personally, I valued my education and being able to have many different experiences. These experiences include learning how to play hockey which is something that isn’t traditionally a “black” thing to do. Many people consider this a “white person” thing to do. Even as an adult, I hear people make comments like “you talk white”, “you speak so well”, or “only white people do that”.
If I wasn’t so strong in my convictions, that could potentially be damaging to me and prevent me from accomplishing what I want to achieve. It isn’t fair that people try to box me in but it is a fact of life. I still feel a disconnect from time to time with people (especially from people who look like me) when these comments are made. It makes me wonder if they view me as someone who is “bougie” or an “Uncle Tom”. At the same time, I recognize that these people don’t pay my bills, put a roof over my head, feed me, or clothe me so why should I care about their opinion about how I should live my life. I hope that you all do the same.
I believe owning your identity is a very important concept to remember. It is very easy to fall into the crowd and lose yourself. Comparing ourselves to others can be very detrimental as well. Focusing on yourself and being confident about who you are as a person is one of the most important things you can do for yourself. This is a way to show self-love and being happy with who you are as a person.
As parents, we need to love ourselves so we can be the best version of ourselves. Plus, this is a great way to model this type of thinking to our children. I know you all want your child to be happy and free of anxiety. Let’s promote an environment at home that encourages this. If you are not comfortable with who you are, please take time to reflect over the next few weeks. Find out who you are and then own it. I promise you that your life will change for the better once you do this.
Cameron is the creator of Supportive Fathers. He created Supportive Fathers as a way to help explore topics other dads encounter in everyday life. Cameron is very passionate about being a father to 2 year old daughter as well as being the husband possible to his wife. To read more of his story, please click here.