“Be who you is. ‘Cause if you ain’t who you is, then you is who you ain’t”
I just love this quote (attributable to Harry Hein & others). For some reason it’s common to identify an area where we have low or moderate ability and then compare ourselves to someone who happens to be an expert. The result is feeling inadequate and demoralized - it’s a real confidence killer.
My older brother, John, is a real charmer. He’s outgoing, funny, confident, and had big dimples when he was a kid making him the “mascot” of our neighborhood. He’ll still strike up a conversation with any stranger, and can quickly get them to open up to him.
Growing up in his shadow posed some challenges for me. No matter how hard I tried I never felt I could measure up in the same way, socially. And the more I tried to be like him, the more awkward things got. That led to me telling myself that I couldn’t socialize well. Which, if you know me today, just isn’t true.
The same might be true for you. Have you compared yourself to a very high standard of socialization and come up short? If so here are some things to tell yourself to help put things into perspective.
1) You probably couldn’t handle being highly popular, and you probably wouldn’t enjoy it either. We all have different capacities to manage friendships at different levels. Being socially popular takes a lot of time - time that you probably would prefer to spend on other things.
2) Your talents point the way to your purpose – If you’re an introverted, detailed person who loves to focus on concrete facts rather than on people, chances are that your life purpose isn’t going to be in role that requires a high level of socializing and relational nuance.
3) High visibility brings it’s own set of problems and constraints, so don’t envy that popular person too much. They are always under pressure to remember multiple conversations, personal details, and the latest social politics that can change quickly. They need to be guarded about how they express their true opinions, and they face jealousy from others because of their popularity.
So instead of trying to be someone you’re not, why not focus on becoming the best you that you can be.