As you surf around the web, you’ll be continually bombarded with folks working to teach young writer’s to find their own voice, to be unique, to stand out from the crowd, and to do their own thing…even if only because they’re being told to do it. I’ve even heard a handful of very inspirational quotes that are used to promote this popular idea of being yourself.
He who trims himself to suit everyone will soon whittle himself away. ~Raymond Hull
Almost every man wastes part of his life in attempts to display qualities which he does not possess, and to gain applause which he cannot keep. ~Samuel Johnson,The Rambler, 1750
If God had wanted me otherwise, He would have created me otherwise. ~Johann von Goethe
On the surface, it’s easy to agree with these optimistic cliches. They sound nice. They’re inspirational.
The underlying problem with these flowery quotes is that they provide powerful fuel for us to believe in ourselves, but not necessarily in an altogether healthy manner. There is a strong difference between a lazy person becoming content with mediocrity, happy with who they currently are, versus inspired in one’s ability to learn, grow, adapt, take on new skills, and venture onward and upward toward success.
As a blogger, and as a writer, you should find your own voice. You should create a persona that is comfortable and expressive.
But you should not create that voice by simply sitting down at the computer and typing out your next blog post or college paper. Rather, create it by equipping your mind with as many tools as possible. Learn about writing essays. Study the art of persuasion. Explore the skill of descriptive flare.
Fill your mind, as you would a painter’s palette, with many bright, bold colors from which you can create a masterpiece unlike anything this earth has ever known.
Make the most of yourself, for that is all there is of you. ~Ralph Waldo Emerson
“Be yourself” is about the worst advice you can give some people. ~Tom Masson
Often in the movies, a hero is taught a new skill seemingly through osmosis. They’re coached to believe in themselves, to visualize themselves fighting or computer hacking, and make it happen. Unfortunately, this approach doesn’t work in real life.
In basic combat training, American soldiers aren’t taught to believe in themselves. They’re taught to crawl low enough to avoid being shot. They’re taught to communicate effectively with the soldiers around them. They’re taught to clean, shoot, and maintain a rifle. They’re taught hand-to-hand combat. Some, like me, then go on to learn how to jump from airplanes or helicopters.
And when we complete our training, we step up with confidence. The same confidence that our flowery quotes can temporarily fill you with is the confidence that genuine training and equipment can fill you with permanently.
When you know how to stand tall, take orders, and execute on command, you can step up to the plate confidently and do your job in a way that makes your sergeant, or your boss, proud to have you as a part of his or her team.
Being yourself is great, but it’s even greater when you can be an informed, educated, trained, and equipped version of yourself. Certainly stay true to who you are and what you believe in, but also learn as much as you can. Improve your skill-sets. Grow your abilities.
Become an even better you!