Stop trying to fit in someone else’s box

The best advice I’ve received in my writing career is to let all of our life’s experiences — the good, bad and ugly — shape who we are as writers. Forget about what you think someone else wants to see. It’s best to bare yourself and “get naked” so that you pour all of your thoughts on the page. That’s how you really connect with readers. It’s liberating. It’s real. It’s you.

Now, ask yourself this question, applied to your chosen path in life:

I want you to really think deeply on this one. I believe the answer may startle you a bit, but hopefully, it will move you toward getting a bit more uncomfortable. Trust me, it’s a good thing.

Don’t let the fear of getting to know yourself — getting to the core of who you really are — prevent you from self-discovery. Don’t let the fear of what others might think of you hold you back from being your most authentic self.

When you venture into territory you’ve never been, it’s natural to compare yourself to what others have done. To emulate what they’ve done, and even try to replicate what they’ve done. That’s fine. We all need models. But please — make sure you’re doing things your own way.

Otherwise, you’re trying to fit into someone else’s box. And that’s a terrible place to dwell.

Let the Present Light the Path to Your Future

Reinvention is an ever-present theme this time of the year, largely with the dawning of another new one on the horizon. It’s a time for reflection, even for those of us who don’t necessarily desire change. A time to determine whether we should adapt for what is to come.

When I hear people talk about being yourself, I always think, in order to know your true self, you need to know your story — and own it. I acknowledge that we’re always writing the story of our life. So focus on the present.

It also really helps to know your past, in so many ways. Start with where you’ve been. Focus every day on the present and let that light the way to your future.

Here are some things to think about for staying true to yourself:

  • Know what lights the fire inside of you (what you love and inspires passion)
  • Know what you don’t like (which is just as important)
  • Embrace what comes naturally to you
  • Aspire to make a difference in the lives of others

All of this points you toward what your emotions tell you in each situation. Your emotions guide you, and help you to make sense of your life.

Once you begin to better understand your emotions, you will gain a greater acceptance of your self. You’ll find yourself listening with greater intent to your intuition- that powerful, eternal voice inside of you that always seems to know what’s right for you.

Your intuition is always willing to guide you and be your life’s compass, leading you to grander and bolder frontiers of limitless possibility. Your intuition is letting you know who you really are.

A World of Copycats

A copycat culture exists on social media, business, fashion, sports and really every conceivable medium we can think of. We’re constantly seeing music beats copied from the 80s, clothing trends copied from the 80s and 90s, it seems like nothing is original anymore. Our culture is, in many ways, stuck in the past with how it presents itself.

How did that turn out for the Point Break remake? Yawn. And don’t even get me started on the Johnny Depp remake of the Willy Wonka movie. How could you try and reinvent the greatest character and one of the greatest movies of all time?

When we struggle for ideas of who we want to be, we end up looking far and wide, when what we really need to do is look within to what our heart is really telling us. We can simply focus on asking ourselves, “What do I really want?

This is something that Ellen DeGeneres did earlier in her career. It wasn’t easy to be a lesbian woman trying to crack a very challenging world of comedy and entertainment. She could have faked things, tried to be like everyone else, and conceal her true identity. That would have been easy. It would have been comfortable.

But in the end, had she done that, she wouldn’t be her true self.

Ellen DeGeneres opened my eyes widely to what it means to live a benevolent, altruistic and truly authentic life. Ellen DeGeneres is the queen and CEO of what it means to be all three things. She ultimately decided not to live in someone else’s box. She aspired to make a difference in the lives of others, and by staying true to herself, inspired millions of people all over the world.

What’s Your Story?

What’s your story to give to others? I’ve found that the more I concern myself only with my own character, what matters most to me, I become a better writer. I become a better person — a father, husband, son, friend and brother.

I know I’m at my worst when I’m worried about what everyone else thinks. That’s not authentic. That’s living through the prism of someone else’s life.

At my core, I want to help others discover their true identity and achieve their goals and dreams. Everything I am working toward is leading to this end destination both for myself and others. I got to this point by first acquiring the self-awareness necessary to do it.

We get one chance in this world — over the long haul, of course. And while we can reinvent ourselves, we do form impressions with each thing that we do. It’s best to always be original, to be the composite of your experiences, talents, skills and passions. To let what you love, what you believe in and what you hope for translate into the words you say and things you do.

The truth is, in life, we usually know the answers.

We know who we really want to be, we just have to live it. Somewhere along the way, we become distracted and this becomes harder than it may seem at first blush. As you think about all that’s gone, all that is now, and all that’s to come, I encourage you to dig deep inside and discover your inner spirit. Your inner voice.

It’s telling you to follow what your intuition and heart are saying. Will you listen?

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This article first appeared on Medium.