Don’t let others tell you who you are

violinist Lindsey Stirling

Many people think they are nothing special, that they are boring, because they believe they don’t have an “obvious special talent”.
Others might believe you have to copy someone else’s way to become something special. But that’s not true. Read on to see why.

Some years ago, when I had the time to work out 15 – 20 hours a week I met a guy at the gym who was really nice to talk to. He was humble and helpful and had good manners.

One day I met this guy on the road, while I was doing my usual 1:15 hour run and we talked a bit. He said that he hadn’t gone to the gym today, nor had he the day before.

I asked him what else he was going to do that day.
“Nothing special.” He said.
“I like to watch tv.”
Then his gaze changed into something I had seen several times before as well as after that day. He said he knew it is nothing interesting but that he just liked watching tv. I had the feeling that he was excusing himself why he wasn’t (doing) anything special, anything extraordinary.

I told him that it is ok to do what he really liked to do and that he should give a shit about what other people thought about him.

Mass media is not a good ressouce for role models

Heidi Klum

Heidi Klum, source:

We live in a time where mass media tells us that everybody can be a popstar. We read stories about 17 year olds who code some apps and get rich, about people who set foot on a stage for the very first time, sing and become famous. And we get the feeling that there must be something wrong with us if we do not have 100.000 followers on twitter, or – in case you are female – if you are staying at home taking care of the children and you are not Heidi Klum (a model, mother and business woman).

But this is nonsense.

The mechanics of mass media are the way they are for economical reasons. Articles and stories are chosen for marketable criteria and they have nothing to do with your life. You do not need to be an actor or the next Stephen King to feel like you are something special. You are unique and you do the things you do a unique way.

So if you are a mother who stays at home because you want to take care of your children the best way possible – why not? Taking care of children is a darn hard fulltime job. If you are a construction worker who just loves watching movies starring Dwayne “The Rock” Johnson – why not? What’s a more honest way of making a living than building homes for others?

Why listen to nay-sayers?

But we don´t even need mass media to tell us what we are, what we can and what we cannot do. People next to us will do that for us. Sometimes, when people look through my sketchbooks they say things like:
“I used to draw, too.”
Then I ask them: “Why did you stop?”
“Because I can´t draw.”
“You say that, because somebody else didn´t like your drawings? And that keeps you away from drawing?”

Yes, you can learn to draw to a certain dregree, and yes, talent helps a lot. But at the end, drawing should be something you do for yourself – just because you want to do it and for the joy of doing so.

The same goes for writing, sewing, baking cookies…whatever it is that makes you happy (as long as you don´t torture rats in your basement).

I, for instance, don´t know how to bake those delicous soft cookies. My cookies (back then, when I had the time to bake) have always been as hard as ninja stars. Nobody wanted to eat John´s ninja stars. But I didn´t care, they were my cookies and I loved them. And by the way: Is there anything cooler than a ninja star?

So, do not listen to those who tell you what you are not capable of. Those who tell you what you are doing is not good enough and there are others doing a far better job. Those who try to discourage you very likely have been in your position a long time ago. They have probably failed to stand for their own right to do the things they loved without listening to nay-sayers. And because they do not want to feel miserable about their past decisions they discourage you and tell you not to go your own way.

Even people who should know better, like a jury of music industry veterans, are not good indicators of whether somebody is capable of doing something or not. Like in the case if violinist Lindsey Stirling:

And now check out what she is capable of – even I like to listen to Lindsey, and I´m a hard boiled metal head!

Lindsey Stirling did not get discouraged by the devastating feedback and she followed her own path. But it does not matter if it is something big or small you want to reach – if you are doing it just for yourself or if you want to reach millions of people; as long as it is the one thing you really want to do.

What I want to say is: Have the courage to live your life and do the things you really want to do – no matter how big or small it might be. Don’t let anybody tell you how to live or who you are.

Is there a price of doing the things you love? Very certainly yes. But only you can decide if it is worth paying it. 🙂

12 responses to “Don’t let others tell you who you are

  1. I heartily agree… the only way to be freed up as an artist (or as anything else) is to stop worrying about what other people are saying or thinking. I get caught in that trap constantly. Great post!


  2. Your post touches within my heart and mind. I’m going thrlugh exactly that. Since my illness it’s been a struggle to do things that make me happy and friends I thought were trustworthy, saying negative things about me not achieving much now that im unwell.(of course im frustrated I can’t do alot atm) etc. An endless cycle.

    My blog though not a ‘mass’ follower is something I passionately try to continue with whether people actually read it or not. I know I put the effort, though with constant pain, I strive to type whats in my head.


    • Well, maybe if somebody criticises you for not being as productive as you could be, because of an illness or just because you are having a hard time, maybe this is not a real friend (?). I think, there are times when we are more productive than at another times and only we can decide how much me can load upon us.
      Just go your way. Be happy with the things you do and have. Life isn’t perfect. But we can decide to make the best out of it 🙂


  3. P.s I have this song on my music folder, I think she’s amazing and glad she’s moving foward with her
    Passion. She’s clearly amazing to hear play.


  4. Thank you for writing this! These are the things I think the majority of people silently face everyday myself included, with every attempt at being ourselves. It is a very tough battle to win within yourself, but it can be won. Every time you face it and win the validation in yourself to know you are who you are means that much more to continue that fight. Everything we attempt is always worth it in the end otherwise we wouldn’t have bothered.


    • That’s true. At the end, we only got this life – at least in this form. And if you don’t harm any other why bother with things we are not really into it?


  5. You’re right. Then again we form who we are to a large extent—and for good or ill—based upon what others think about us. In a way other people act funhouse mirrors for or psyche.

    Sometimes what they reflect back at us is amusing. Other times it’s frightening, or just plain weird.

    Though it never tells the whole story. That’s only something the individual can tell with anything resembling accuracy.


    • That’s an intersting though. I’ve never though of us being biased by others, who reflect – like a distorted mirror – our own actions. But I think, that’s true.


  6. Pingback: When Nobody Else Believes In You | I create worlds. John Brito´s Blog·

  7. Pingback: Project Management Check Up for a Fairytale Book? | I create worlds. John E. Brito's Blog·

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