Aristotle said “Criticism is something you can easily avoid by saying nothing, doing nothing, and being nothing.”
It can be exhausting sometimes to remain true to yourself in an environment where everyone expects you to be something else.
We here already know that it is difficult and uncomfortable to be different, so why not just conform? The mold is there for a reason, right?
I can’t answer that question for you, but I can tell you that the mold didn’t work for me.
Let me explain why.
The reason I do things the way I do is because there are people that need and depend on me to be true to myself. The last thing the world needs is one more stereotypical burnt out Bonsai practitioner.
Don’t be so afraid to colour outside of the lines that you never pick up your brush!
You have a unique perspective to offer that no one else does, so share it!
I can’t tell you how many emails, Facebook posts and messages I have received for my openness and helpfulness with those who REALLY want to learn how to create Bonsai. All because I choose to do things differently and honestly.
I have helped to change people’s approach simply by being true to myself. I have gotten through to people that other Bonsai practitioners haven’t been able to because I don’t fit the mold. I promise you, nothing feels better than following the path in your heart.
Realise I am not saying that my way is better than any other way. I am simply sharing that the different approach that I bring to Bonsai has proven to be invaluable to others.
Also it is important to realise that being true to yourself means you might bump heads with other people, particularly on social media. That is okay!
If there isn’t any conflict in human interaction it usually means one person is compromising their beliefs in some way. A little bit of conflict is natural; accept it and learn from it, and don’t get sucked into a Facebook game of bat and ball where nobody wins.
There is a sort of catch that comes with breaking the mold though.
It definitely isn’t the easy road and you are going to face some difficulties. At least I know that I have, particularly when the traditionalists are out in force.
What can you expect if you choose to break the mold?
- Will you be mocked? You bet
- Misunderstood? Count on it.
- Out casted? Most likely
And all of it will be worth it. To the people you help and to your happiness in life, there is no alternative. You have to be true to yourself, against all odds.
I have had insulting Facebook posts made about me I have been openly mocked for my way of doing things by other artists.
This is the price I pay for staying true to myself, and I grin and bear it. I chose not to compromise my principles just to fit in, and I would gladly do it again.
The choice of who you will be is ultimately up to you.
If you choose to break the mold, I offer some advice to help you find your way:
- Intimately get to know who you are and what you represent.
Without a crystal clear view of your identity, it will be difficult to survive the pressure and ridicule. Get to know yourself more.
- Try not to take things personally.
What you need to realise is that humans attack what they don’t understand. It isn’t that they dislike or disapprove of you; it is that they don’t understand what you represent.
Realise that the attacks are not personal, no matter how they sound. The people attacking you are really just protecting their own ideals, because what you represent makes them question their values.
- Realise that you are unique and important, despite what the people around you may say.
Your opinion and approach matters just as much as everyone else’s!
Once you start walking your own path, never turn back. Walk through life with your head held high knowing that you never comprised what is in your heart.
Being true to yourself will eventually earn you respect among many of your peers. I have had this happen to me, and I have more than a few fellow practitioners who understand my approach and respect it. Coincidentally, these artists are not always the ones I looked up to.
Even a few of the artists who initially gave me the hardest time have started to be more respectful. It takes time, but it does get easier, particularly when you win awards.
If you ever feel alone on your path, realise that you are in good company. Almost all the great people in history chose to break the mold and to walk their own path.
Starting right now, I challenge you walk your own path and don’t compromise your beliefs for anyone.
Take the first step and never turn back. You only have one life. Provided that the way you live it doesn’t harm anyone, you have the opportunity – one might even say the duty – to live it the way you see fit.
And don’t be afraid of being different… be afraid of being ordinary