Cartoons by John P. Weiss
We hide behind masks and facades. At work. Parties. Social engagements. Sometimes, even at home with our loved ones.
Do you remember who you used to be? Before the influencers, idols and insecurity intruded into your life?
Do you remember who you were? Back before life got serious and you had to set aside childish things? Back when the summers lasted forever and everyone you loved was still around, positively influencing your life?
Do you remember your dreams and hopes and desires for the future?
Do you remember your innocence? The real and true person you used to be, before the onslaught of social conventions forged your conformity?
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Wisdom is truth that consoles
English philosopher and intellectual Roger Scruton wrote:
“ … our real selves are vastly more interesting than the pretend selves we adopt for others’ consumption.”
Scruton also wrote that, “Wisdom is truth that consoles.” To that end, here’s a bit of wisdom that might console you:
The power of your innocence will set you free.
Your innocence, uniqueness and authenticity are what set you apart from everyone else. They’re the qualities that can move you closer to your goals and success.
Sometimes, even our perceived flaws can become assets. Consider the model Lauren Hutton. She had a gap between her front teeth. Modeling agents said it distracted from her beauty.
An article in the Huffington Post described how Hutton dealt with the gap in her teeth:
“At first, she tried using morticians’ wax to cover the gap, cutting a line in the middle of it. Then she used a cap, which she would often swallow, laugh out, or misplace.
‘Revlon wanted me to use it all the time, and then the construction workers would yell at me in the street, ‘Hey, Lauren, why did you fill in your space? We don’t like you anymore!’ she says. ‘So I would turn and give them a great big grin and they would cheer.’ ”
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It is our flaws that make us interesting
How about you? What are you concealing? What qualities are you hiding? Why are you hiding them?
The world celebrates originals, not distant knockoffs and wannabes.
I believe it is our flaws that make us interesting, the backgrounds, the hardships.” — Jane Green
There’s nothing wrong with admiring the skills and styles of others. We borrow the best bits and pieces. But in scaffolding our personas, we must never abandon our true selves.
People can spot the fakes. The pretenders. They snicker at their affectations. Their contrived mannerisms. People long for authenticity, however unusual or unconventional.
Truman Capote was an American author best known for his book, “In Cold Blood.” It chronicles the real life murder of an entire family in Kansas.
The late actor Philip Seymour Hoffman did a stunning portrayal of Capote in the movie “Capote.” It won him an Academy Award for best actor in 2006.
Capote was a gay man with a memorable voice and mannerisms.
No doubt, Capote was teased in life. But he was brilliant, and he crafted his public persona to great effect, appearing on major television programs like Johnny Carson and the Dick Cavett show.
Watch this short video clip of Philip Seymour Hoffman as Capote, explaining to a young woman how people misunderstand him.
Truman Capote didn’t apologize for the way he was. In fact, he leveraged it. He was authentic, and stood out as a result.
Authenticity stands out. Individuality stands out. The real you may not be everybody’s cup of tea, but then, that’s why Baskin Robbins has 31 flavors of ice cream. Tastes vary.
It doesn’t matter what flavor you are, but it does matter that your flavor contains quality.
Embracing our uniqueness is the first step. But then we have to refine our authenticity. We have to educate ourselves, hone our skills and abilities.
Truman Capote was one of a kind, but he still had to educate himself and hone his writing. Authenticity and excellence are a winning combination.
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Stop being afraid
Country music star Tim McGraw knew he wanted to sing and tell stories with his music. But some people told him he wasn’t a good enough singer.
Fortunately, McGraw refined the uniqueness of his voice, and married that to his charismatic personality and presence. He later became a country music superstar.
You may not believe it, but the key to your success lies in rediscovering your innocence. Embracing your authenticity. It also requires that you develop your skills and attributes around your uniqueness.
If we are ever to achieve some semblance of personal actualization, we need to stop being afraid. Stop worrying about what others are thinking. Embrace your innocence and authenticity.
There will always be haters and people who put you down. They’re the ones who gossip behind your back, or anonymously attack you from the safety of their laptop keyboard.
Pay the haters and naysayers no attention. If you marry quality and hard work with your innocence and authenticity, you’ll stand out and move forward.
You might also inspire others, who are uncertain about their own perceived limitations and shortcomings.
Embrace who you are and craft a winning combination around your quirks, idiosyncrasies and true self. Show the world the real you. Hone your talents.
It worked for Lauren Hutton, Truman Capote and Tim McGraw. It can work for you, too.
Before you go
I’m John Weiss. I draw old school, handcrafted cartoons and write about life. Get on my free email list here for the latest cartoons and blog posts.
This article first appeared on Medium.