How To Prove Yourself When You Have Nothing To Prove
“Be yourself. Everyone else is already taken.” — Oscar Wilde, playwright, novelist, poet
Nancy is an amateur photographer and she wants to turn her hobby into a business but she hesitates. “What if I am not good enough? What if they compare me to others and find out that I’m awful? What if I end up looking foolish?”
Do any of those questions sound familiar? I know I asked them before I started writing. I’ve asked them before starting anything, at all. They are natural questions that most people ask of themselves before they start any new venture. Indeed, we often ask them before entering a room of strangers or even sometimes before going out of our own front door.
Most people struggle with the need to prove themselves. This starts at an early age. From the first time we become aware that our siblings are fellow humans, we start to compare how we look, how we do things, how we dress, and even how we speak.
Often when we compare ourselves to others, we come up short. There is always someone more intelligent, more charismatic, funnier, taller, slimmer, better looking … the list is endless. Regardless, we love to go down the list, like a rabbit disappearing down a rabbit hole. These wise words of Maya Angelou may make us stop and come up for air, “You alone are enough. You have nothing to prove to anybody.”
To be fair, we are taught to compare ourselves to others all through our school and working years. In school, we compete to get the top exam scores and reach the top of the class.
The comparisons and competition gets amplified in the sports arena. In school, I can remember being embarrassed to be the last one picked to be on a team and worse, not being picked at all. Standing alone on the field while everyone else races off to play. Mortifying.
At work, the competition is often fierce, where the focus is all about getting to the top of the corporate ladder. If you are going to climb the ladder, make sure you know what your unique gifts and talents are. Know what you are good at. This way you can make sure, not only that your ladder is leaning up against the right wall, but that you don’t waste time and effort comparing yourself to others as you move on up.
As I was writing this article, a friend dropped by, and without my prompting told me about a phone call she had this morning, from a couple who had moved across the country. The husband had suffered from debilitating depression until he was in his fifties. He told my friend that he was able to shake the depression during his last stay at a mental hospital because he met with a brilliant psychiatrist who diagnosed his problem. “He told me that I worried too much about what others thought about me. I was always trying to live up to the expectations of others. Through talk therapy, I was able to get out of my depression.” This advice must have worked because he is still living a healthy and productive life at ninety years old.
As this story proves, it can be disastrous for your mental health to compare yourself to others and worry about what they will say about you. Trying to prove yourself to others is a losing proposition.
Better instead to heed Ralph Waldo Emerson, who says, “To be yourself in a world that is constantly trying to make you something else is the greatest accomplishment.”
Being yourself allows you to shine. To be beautiful. “Beauty begins the moment you decide to be yourself,” says Coco Chanel, Fashion Designer.
Chanel built a fashion empire out of humble beginnings. She was born into poverty in 1831. As a young girl, she learned to sew in the orphanage where she was abandoned by her father, after her mother died. She worked in a store and became a café singer. She could have easily allowed that to be the extent of her life, after all, no one expected more of her and they likely expected less. But she knew she was destined for more.
Chanel began designing hats and opened a milliner’s shop in Deauville, France, with the financial backing from an admirer. She went from making fashionable hats to designing loose fitting clothing based on the styles of mens’ suits, that allowed women to abandon their restrictive corsets. From Chanel, we have the classic Chanel suit, the little black dress, and the perfume, Chanel №5. Chanel died in 1971 but the Chanel designer house lives on today and is said to be worth $19.2 billion.
Allow No One To Make You Feel Small
“No one can make you feel inferior without your consent,” Eleanor Roosevelt. When we compare ourselves to others it can make us feel small. We diminish ourselves. The result is that we waste precious time focusing on what others think is important instead of focusing on our own important work. Eleanor Roosevelt is an example of someone who rose above the criticisms of the crowd to become one of the most respected First Ladies in the history of the USA.
Eleanor Roosevelt was accused of many things, being a racist, a meddler, too talkative, too opinionated. Mrs. Roosevelt never allowed that to stop her from speaking her mind with honesty and candor and standing up for what she believed in. Towards the end of her life she was highly esteemed throughout the world. She became a journalist. Wrote several books, including some for children. But perhaps what she is best know for is her part in the drafting the Covenant for Human Rights during her time working as the chairman for human rights in the United Nations.
Realize People Don’t Spend Much Time Thinking About You
Eleanor Roosevelt also said, “You wouldn’t worry so much about what others think about you if you realized how seldom they do.”
Take these words to heart. If you want to be a photographer. Do it. Bring your uniqueness and your creativity to it. Know that no one else can see the way that you see.
What is something you have been putting off doing? Applying for a promotion, changing jobs, starting a business from a hobby, or coming up with an idea for a new product or service? Instead of comparing yourself and your work to what is already out there and coming up short, why not …
Go for a walk. Think about how your idea can help someone else. Imagine yourself succeeding at your new venture.
Talk to a respected friend, mentor, or coach, who can be supportive and inspiring so that you can accomplish your greatest work. Ask them to help you implement your personal growth plan. Don’t compare. Don’t wait. Do this now.
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Faith Evan West will show you through the transformative power of coaching exactly how to build your unique unshakeable confidence, be the leader of choice to your ideal people & create the work and lifestyle you want.