A few days ago, I was listening to America Ferrera in this TED Talk, explaining how she became aware of her value and her right to succeed as she was, after going through different experiences along her professional career as an actress. She made me think of how we people consider our value, and how our context shapes our thinking.
An important need to be fulfilled is the sense of belonging. Every human being needs to be part of a group and felt loved and respected. To fulfil this need, we often become invisible until fitting into the stereotype.
In a time when diversity seems to be a priority, there are still people hiding themselves and trading their identity for being accepted. The tragedy about this is that we also need to become relevant in our life; in fact, the searching for meaning and purpose is proved to be more important than being just happy.
But, how can we be relevant without being who we really are? Where is the value of being someone different?
Oscar Wilde said, “be yourself; everyone else is already taken”. Not even he, one of the most prominent writers of the last century, couldn’t follow his advice. He hid himself to fit in to what society wanted, and to avoid the worst consequences.
What we have been told about us and how others see us define the gap between how we are and what is expected. Moreover, these two things define how we think about us, establishing the limits of what we see possible. It’s a kind of Pygmalion effect with the opposite result.
The search for our value isn’t easy when we don’t fit in the standards. And it’s due to our perceptions and assumptions. It’s time to enlarge our perspective and start thinking out of the box.
Being inspired to dream about what we want to do, despite what others want for us, isn’t effortless. And yet, we can find a big source of inspiration in others. Having a role model, someone representing us, and doing what we’d want to do is essential to see us valuable and capable.
A role model is someone who has specific traits or skills that we want to enact. These people can inspire us to develop our value from our true self, making us believe that it is possible to be what we are and still become a valuable member of our group. Showing up becomes easier when we follow someone else’s path.
At times, it’s our chance to become that role model and make it easier for others to follow.
Going back to America Ferrera, she said “stop resisting and start existing” the way we are, ensuring we contribute at our best. It’s good advice.