Become bulletproof by accepting yourself
I’ve gone through a lot of identity crises in my life.
Granted, I’m 25 — my “crises” are probably pretty minor in the scope of life compared to what’s likely ahead, but they still seem significant to me.
When I was growing up, I didn’t know who I really was. I was a nerd (and still absolutely am). But then it wasn’t cool to be a nerd, so I stopped being one.
In my fraternity in college, I started as the Treasurer. I preferred to wield power from behind the scenes. I didn’t think I was cool enough to be in the limelight. Then I became the Vice President + Recruitment Chair, making me the primary face of the organization, both internally and externally. Now I had to start being cool enough because our organization’s success depended on it.
During my second half of college and soon after, I thought I wanted to be more of a technical person in a very large company. Now I realize that I want to be more of a businessperson and entrepreneurial within a successful start-up.
Notice a frequent trend of contradictions?
Throughout life, you’re always testing assumptions about yourself. You’re going to be wrong a million times. You’re going to wonder why you thought certain things about yourself. You may feel like you wasted time pursuing paths that went nowhere. You may think you’re a failure because you didn’t amount to what you thought you were supposed to be.
Every single moment in your life has led you to your current place. And this could be the exact place that you need to be.
When I started gaining clarity on who I was, what I really valued, and my strengths/weaknesses, that’s when interesting things began to happen.
One of the single most important things that I did was accept myself for who I am.
I stopped trying to apply labels and stereotypes to myself, which I’d subconsciously conform to.
I stopped trying to uphold any personas or reputations that I had built up.
I stopped worrying about people not liking me or saying negative things about me.
I stopped caring about making an idiot of myself.
I stopped thinking that if I was not the best, there was no point in trying.
When you are being yourself, it should be effortless. Things will just come easier. Own your identity.
When we’re at our best, we feel like we’re in the zone. It doesn’t necessitate a ton of energy. It simply requires us being present and focused.
I now know who I am and realize my own value. I’ll let my actions talk and others can make their own assumptions.
Most importantly, I know who I’m not: I’m neither the math wizard, the analytics expert, the rockstar developer, or the person that stays at the office until 10pm every night. So there’s no need — or even accidental effort — to ever be anyone but myself.
One thing that’s become easier: job interviews.
When first starting out years ago (e.g. w/ internships), I was very nervous. Most people are. You’re not sure of the exact questions — you can only prepare as much as possible. One dumb answer could cost you. You have to put your best foot forward. “What if someone doesn’t like me?!”
I recently had two job interviews (now that I’m about to get back into the job world). And they felt so amazingly natural. I wish it was because I am some genius prodigy (which I’m sadly not).
The job interviews went well simply because I picked companies and roles that I figured I could succeed in and was just myself. There was no need to fake anything or exaggerate. My responses were confident and already aligned with what constituted a good candidate.
It’s essential to not only know who you are, but be able to articulate/show it.
If the jobs don’t come through, that’s fine. There are an infinite number of opportunities in the world, and because I know who I am and where my strengths/shortcomings are, I can better narrow down where I would thrive.
The glorious paradox of job-hunting with this mindset:
- If you know your strengths/values, you’ll get more opportunities.
- With more opportunities, you’’ll be less committed to any one option.
- With less attachment/commitment, you’ll feel less pressure to be perfect during the interview.
- With less pressure, you’ll become more comfortable and confident.
- With more comfort and confidence, you’ll likely do better and increase your likelihood of getting the job (and even negotiating a better salary).
Comparing yourself to others is a zero-sum game.
There will always be people that are smarter than you, more talented than you, more successful than you, better-looking than you, etc. Get over it.
You don’t need to be the best or even close to it. Those that work to be the best pay an insanely high price — usually via sacrificing almost all other areas of their lives.
Forget about the people you know that seem to be having more fun than you or drive better cars than you. Maybe the tables will turn one day.
The quickest way to forget that others have more than you is to take into account what you do have and be thankful for it. When you regularly express gratitude, you eventually become overwhelmed by realizing all of the wonderful things that you do have. You will rarely think about the things that others have that you’re lacking. You can start being happy for others’ accomplishments and successes because it doesn’t take away from your possibilities (at least in most cases).
Your only goal in life is to be the very best version of yourself that you can be.
Control what you can. You can invest your time into continuously improving yourself. You can work towards a goal that will benefit you for the rest of your life. You can have everything you’ve ever wanted in life (within some semblance of reason).
Carve yourself into a valuable, unique, and irreplaceable resource that can make a impact of some kind in the universe. Work more on improving your strengths than fixing your shortcomings.
This doesn’t necessarily mean being the best at one particular thing. It could mean simply being good or great at a combination of things or in a specific niche. Following this ideology can make you a powerful force, no matter where you are.
Figure out your personal superpower/unfair advantage and continue to build on it.
Follow this and you’ll end up loving yourself. Life will become more enjoyable and fulfilling. Success will surely follow.
When are you at your best and become an unstoppable force? Please feel free to comment your answer.