What’s your schtick?
Seriously, I’m asking. And it’s something you should ask yourself, too.
After my recent health scare (you can read about it here), I’ve been spending some time thinking about authenticity and what it really means to be yourself – to be true to yourself. What does it mean to unapologetically be exactly who you are?
Now, “schtick” sometimes can have a negative connotation, but I see it as it is defined by Merriam Webster’s: “one’s special trait, interest, of activity.”
I also like that it implies something routine or repetitious. Because who we are every day is a choice. Just as it can become routine or repetitive to be some curated version of ourselves, it has to be repetitive for us to be our authentic self, if we want it to become routine. That simply means that the more you are being you, the easier it will be to be yourself.
So, what’s your schtick? Where are you falling short, or overcompensating? For me, it becomes all too easy for to get swayed by what I see other authors/inspirers doing online. Social media is a great tool for connecting, and it’s also a great tool for feeling lesser-than. The truth is most of social media is curated. Yes, even the ones that say “I’m being 100% real.”
On social media, we share in order to feel like we belong. We choose to share what we love, but also what we know (or hope) will be accepted, so that we can belong. Somewhere. Even for a little while. But all of social media (and marketing in general) highlights the best of something. It’s edited. It shows us the tidy front of something, not the messy back-side. (Yes, even if the front appears not-so-tidy.)
It’s biologically unacceptable for us to show weakness (mess, fear, anxiety, etc.) unless it’s curated in some way, such as being veiled under the label of “authenticity” or #reallife. Once it has a label, it becomes a no-go zone for attack, which is what makes it safe. It changes the game for anyone watching. Suddenly the person being “real” is someone to be upheld (worshipped?) for their vulnerability, which then prevents us from seeing that it’s still curated and finessed. But I digress…
The important thing is not what others think. It never is. As I’ve said before: People’s view of you is not who you are. The important thing in life is knowing who you are and then acting on that in a meaningful way every day. In other words, what’s your schtick?
For me, thinking I was going to die and then living through that experience has opened up my eyes to the places where I wasn’t living true to myself. Here are a few examples that may help you look at your own life with new perspective:
1) I like nature, but I’m not “outdoors-y.” I prefer a 4- or 5-star hotel to a tent. I prefer a beautiful linen-laid table with a sumptuous breakfast to a campfire. I prefer sleeping in a room with air conditioning in the summer. I like to be comfortable. But, I have spent a lot of time apologizing for that. In fact, I have gone so far as to ask friends that love to camp to take me with them (thank God they haven’t), so that I can show I love it, too. But, I know I won’t love it. I know I would always rather sleep in a bed with sheets than a sleeping bag, and I will always prefer to have a bathroom nearby. It’s who I am. So, my schtick is being comfortable, and I’m done apologizing for it.
2) I love books, and I love to learn, but I don’t like to read. GASP! A writer who doesn’t like to read??? Yes, it’s true. I’ve never liked to read. That’s not to say that I don’t read, or I won’t devour something that’s really good, but, in general, I tire from reading rather quickly. If a book doesn’t keep my attention in each chapter, I put it down. I have more half-read books than completed in my library. But most people look at you funny if you say you don’t like to read. So, I never do. But now I am. I’ve been that way since I was little, and I suspect I will remain that way. I’ll still buy, love, and cherish books, because there’s something special about holding a book in your hand and the promise it brings. But, I’m not apologizing anymore for not finishing a book. If I’ve gotten out of it what I need in the section I’ve read, it has served its purpose. (This also means: if I’ve read a book in its entirety, the author did a REALLY good job with it.) So, my schtick is enjoying learning, in whatever form that takes for however long that is, and not apologizing for not liking reading.
3) I enjoy good design and nice things. I am just as comfortable in something from Target as I am in something from Neiman Marcus. For me, it’s all about the design. I don’t particularly care about labels, but I do like nice things. There was a time in my life when I would use and wear my nice things without batting an eye. In college, for example, I wore my fancy charm bracelet daily, along with other nice jewelry (in the middle of Ohio surrounded by cornfields). It was never (and is never) about impressing others, but about enjoying something myself. Then, as I got older, I started apologizing for liking/having nice things. So, I put them away. Well, since I almost died recently (or thought I was going to), I’ve decided that life is too short to hide away the things that bring you joy. What are we saving it for anyway? Why is the silver and fine china brought out twice a year on holidays? No longer. I’m now pulling my nice things out of storage. So, my schtick is enjoying (and using) nice things, whether they are considered a “luxury” or a “bargain.”
You see how we can get caught up in a game of edited and curated living without even realizing it? These may seem like little things, but they’re not. They’re big things, because all the little things add up together to slowly take us away from our authentic self. And in a cumulative nature, they build on each other until we totally forget who we really are, what makes us unique, and what makes us happy. Those are some or my things, but what are yours?
Again, I’m asking: What’s your Schtick?