Last Thursday night, I headed to a conference in Sacramento to hear the renowned photographer David Ziser speak. Sacramento happened to be the last stop on his “Captured by the Light” tour that traveled all over the country. Besides being an industry great, he’s been in the wedding photography business for over 25 years. It was a fun filled night of advice, techniques and tips on how to successfully run your own business.
One of the points David made was how important it is to differentiate yourself from the “competition”. Knowing your unique strengths and what makes you original. It’s a point I’ve been thinking a lot about lately. From an early age, we grow up wanting to fit in. Particularly with our friends. As kids, we want what they have. The same toys, the same color backpack or the same Care Bears lunchbox (how I always longed for a Care Bears lunchbox like the one my friend Courtney had). And as kids grow up and become teenagers, this pressure to fit in only becomes stronger. The pressure to wear what your friends wear, talk like your friends talk and do what they do. It becomes a constant cycle of everyone striving to be the same. Being different from the masses is often equivalent to being made fun of, bullied or teased. And no one wants that. So the qualities that make someone unique or different are often hidden away. Luckily, as teens grow into adulthood, this pressure of fitting in seems to slowly be lifted. College often becomes a period of learning about who you are, what you want to become and celebrating those things that make you different. And for many people, feeling comfortable in their own skin for the first time. Because once these young adults enter the workforce, it becomes all about standing out instead of fitting in. Interview questions asked often include ‘What makes you different’ or ‘What can you bring to this company that no one else can’. Employers are looking for a candidate that will bring a unique perspective to their company. In order to be remembered, you need to differentiate yourself from everyone else.
Standing out in a country of millions is no easy task. This is especially true in a profession where multiple people possess the same skills and education. Through my own experiences in the past few years, I’ve learned that confidence is key. Know who you are and be confident in that. Celebrate your differences and what makes you unique. Don’t let others convince you to be something that you are not. There is only one you and you should be proud of who you are.
It’s something I remind myself of all the time. To embrace my quirks and individuality. And as I write this I can almost hear my favorite group of my teenage years, BSB, crooning in the background, “What makes you different, makes you beautiful…”
I think no one said it better than Dr. Suess himself, “Today you are You, that is truer than true. There is no one alive who is Youer than You.”