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Q: What are the benefits of being an individual, as opposed to someone who just wants to be like everyone else? -Jennifer M., graduate student
A: Asserting your individuality will increase your sense of significance, as well as your perceived value. There's your answer in one neat little sentence. I could leave it at that but...that wouldn't be much fun, would it?
Emotionally healthy people feels as if they add a certain amount of value to their environment. And others will perceive them as being more valuable as well. This allows them to maintain an optimum level of self-esteem. A person with high self-esteem and a sense of significance has a much greater chance of being successful.
I know that it sounds morally incorrect to talk about one person being more valuable then another. We're all human, right? Yeah...whatever. You and I both know that is NOT how it works in the real world. In most circumstances, the more unique (in a good way) you are the more you're perceived to be worth.
Three things to watch out for when asserting your individuality are arrogance, jealousy, and I-ness.
It takes confidence to stand out and it takes confidence to know your true worth. There is a thin line, however, between confidence and arrogance. In fact, that line is probably invisible.
So, how do you know when you've crossed that line? Ahhhh, young grasshopper, if it were only that simple! The answer to that question is subjective. Different people will call the same person confident or arrogant.
But I guess you could say that at the core of confidence there is certain sense of humility and a willingness to learn from people who may not be as talented as you are. An arrogant person completely lacks these qualities. Also, people covet confidence, they despise arrogance.
Next there's the jealousy. The more your individuality shines through the more you'll stand out. The more you stand out the more people will be jealous of you. Haters. "Who does she think she is?! Halle Berry?"
This is why you must help people. When you give of yourself, fewer people will envy you and more people will appreciate you. They will still "wanna be like Mike",but that's called admiration.
I-ness is the "It's all about me" or "I've gotta do everything" syndrome. Quite often this is a person's attitude when they are trying to prove their significance and value. (I know... sometimes it's that they don't trust anybody, but that's not what we're talking about here.)
No one truly succeeds alone. It's fruitless to try to assert your individuality in this manner. The most beautiful flowers in the world couldn't grow without the soil. So, maybe the flowers should show some appreciation every now and then. The dirt deserves some love too!
Here are a few tips on promoting your individuality effectively:
- Focus on your strengths, not your weaknesses. You can become better at things that you don't do well, but you can become great at things you can do well. Spend the majority of your personal development and self-improvement time working on your strengths and you will stand out for sure.
- Increase your awareness. Learn as much as possible about the people in your environment or profession. Then you will be able to highlight the differences between you and them in a positive way.
- Don't always go with flow, do something different. Peer pressure is often just as challenging for adults as it is for teenagers but too much conformity kills individuality. Break or bend the rules (within reason) every now and then.
- Ask a few people that you know personally and professionally what makes you different from anyone else they know. You might not like everything they say, but their perception doesn't have to be your reality. Write down what they say and use it to your advantage.
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