Prefer to listen to this post? Here ya go:
During my freshman and sophomore years in high school, my best friend was one of the prettiest and most popular girls in class.
She had shiny blonde hair that fell just right, tan skin, long legs, and the perfect wardrobe.
Plus she had a contagious laugh, a witty sense of humor, and the kind of inner spirit that made you just want to LIKE her.
I, on the other hand, was decidedly NOT one of the prettiest or most popular girls in my class.
I had gaps in my front teeth, frizzy hair, and chubby cheeks.
I also had a shiny forehead, a lazy left eye, and a patchwork wardrobe made up of my older sister’s hand-me-downs, my mother’s borrowed items, and some cheap trend pieces I’d bought with my babysitting money.
Along with my less-than-stunning physical appearance, I was FAR from one of the most popular girls in school.
I just didn’t ‘get’ how to be cool.
(I’m still waiting for the instruction manual.)
I spent a lot of time at my BFFs house, where we’d often end up making ourselves a snack because she was always hungry.
(And I, chubby cheeks and all, was never one to turn down a meal.)
She showed me how to make the BEST grilled cheese sandwiches. Tons of butter. Fluffy white bread. Thick slabs of cheese.
We’d grill ‘em up in her kitchen and I’d think, Yeah! THIS is what the good life is all about!
‘Cause seriously. . . my friend ALWAYS looked pulled-together and pretty.
And her house was way nicer than mine.
And her mom seemed to be in a much better mood than mine most of the time.
(I’m not saying she WAS—just that it seemed like it at the time. Don’t judge teenage angst.)
And. . . well, I got pretty addicted to those grilled cheese sandwiches.
In fact (and this may sound ridiculous) those grilled cheese sandwiches seemed to represent an entire lifestyle that I thought I wanted.
I would go home after our get togethers and try to bring a little of my friend’s magic into my own house and life.
And it wasn’t just the sandwiches—I’d try to make my handwriting look a little more like hers, and my hair a little blonder and smoother like hers.
(Single white female, anyone? What am I DOING confessing this in public?!)
And when I went to rustle up a delicious grilled cheese sandwich in our own family kitchen. . . well, it never seemed to taste quite the way it did at HER house.
And also? My friend had an entirely different genetic profile from mine.
That girl could eat, like, five grilled cheese sandwiches a day and her metabolism would just shrug and say, No prob, I’ll take care o’ that for ya.
Well, let’s just say that my metabolism was a little less cooperative.
(ANOTHER grilled cheese sandwich? Whaddya expect me to do with that? Forget it. You're on your own, kid. I’m taking a nap.)
So yeah. . . our bodies weren’t the same.
And quite frankly, neither were our lives.
The problem was, I was trying so hard to live HER life that I couldn’t enjoy my own.
I was looking in the mirror, or around my house, or at my family, and thinking. . .
This isn’t right. This isn’t enough. Your life sucks and hers is awesome.
But the truth is, my life was way more awesome than I thought it was.
(I had to spend a LOT of money in therapy to find that out. But whatever.)
If I had those teenage years to do over again with the wisdom I’ve gained over the past few decades. . .
Well, I might have actually ENJOYED high school, instead of ticking off the days until graduation like a prisoner waiting for her sentence to end.
Because honestly, once I stopped trying to be my BFF (or ANY of my friends) and began to embrace who I was, my life started to get a whole lot better after high school.
And here’s why I’m even talking about it here on Ye Olde Blogge.
I’ve noticed that in business, so many of us compare ourselves to our favorite gurus or mentors.
We carefully study their actions, words, and advice.
Their websites, hairstyles, and gestures.
Their lifestyles, relationships, and fabulous Instagram streams.
And we think, THAT’S what I need to do to be successful.
(Or we think, Why don’t I have that in my life? It’s not fair!)
But what if. . .
What if your favorite guru is a "Rita Routine" with her schedule-- and you aren't, never will be, and really don't WANT to be?
What if she has a boyfriend or husband who supports her-- and you’re going it solo?
What if she grew up believing in herself because of the positive messages she heard from her parents-- while you were often told (and believed) you’d never amount to much?
Now before you get depressed and think, Gee, thanks for pointing out that I don't have the right success factors in place--
What if (revisiting the above examples). . .
What if YOUR way of switching up the schedule instead of following a rigid routine is just plain genius? (What if your mentor wishes she could be a little more flexible, like you?)
What if being solo offers you WAY more time to hone your craft or market your offerings? (Remember, she's gotta carve out time to pay attention to that supportive partner.)
What if YOUR upbringing made you strong, determined, and resourceful? (There is actually no type of upbringing-- either good or bad-- that guarantees a person's outcomes later in life.)
The truth is this.
There is no life that suits you better than the one you already have.
Because for one? You can't have anyone else's life anyway. That's just a plain fact.
And secondly-- even if by some supernatural deed you WERE plunked down smack-dab in the middle of your favorite guru's life tomorrow. . .
Chances are good you'd do a lot of things differently anyway, simply because you're. . . well, you're YOU, and not her.
(Are you sensing a theme here?)
And here’s the most important ‘what if’. . .
What if by trying to:
- Do things the way she does
- Look more like her
- Make your website look more like hers
- Make your language sound more like hers
- Make your LIFE look more like hers
What if by doing all of that you’re actually STIFLING the brilliance that is you?
Because if your brain works THIS way, and hers works THAT way. . .
Then the two of you ought to be doing very different things in life.
And her way of doing things isn’t One. Single. Bit. Better than yours.
In fact, YOUR way of doing things is magnificent.
Your way of speaking, and gesturing, and writing, and styling your hair, and creating products, and teaching really is fantastic.
If you doubt that for a moment, it’s because you’ve become conditioned (we all have) to look outside yourself for answers and inspiration.
And here’s the deal.
You may not be your favorite hero, but you COULD be doing things on the same scale as she is.
If only? You’d stop looking at her and thinking that she has more going for her than you do.
That you should emulate her to succeed.
Or that your life, your circumstances, or your way of doing things isn't good enough.
Yeah, maybe she gets to eat grilled cheese and not gain weight (metaphorically or otherwise).
But maybe you get to hug an awesome kid each night, and she skipped motherhood.
Or maybe you get to sleep in on Saturdays, while she has to be up at the crack of dawn for a media appearance.
Or maybe you get to have everything 'just so' in your home, while her awesome boyfriend leaves his stuff lying everywhere in their house.
I'm not debating whether one is better than the other.
I'm merely pointing out that there are benefits-- and consequences-- to every type of lifestyle.
Remember— none of us goes through this life getting EVERYTHING we want.
The key to having loads of fun anyway is to become:
- Passionate about your OWN reality,
- Intimately familiar with your OWN sweet spot, and
- Unapologetic about your OWN approach to your life and business.
And when you master these three things?
Well. . . you won't even miss those grilled cheese sandwiches.
So now that I've confessed my embarrassing Single White Female teenage girl crush. . .
What about YOU?
Have you ever found yourself trying to walk in someone else's shoes?
And how, pray tell, has that worked out for you?
I'd LOVE to hear about it in the comments below.
For now, I'm off to grill up a. . . er, assemble a tasty salad. ;)