How To Blaze Your Own Path
Posted on December 05 2014
"To be yourself in a world that is constantly trying to make you something else is the greatest accomplishment." Those words, courtesy of the poet Ralph Waldo Emerson, ring truer than ever today.
The media saturates us with ideas about who and what we should be, what we should wear, how we should act, and what it means to be cool. When you strive for someone else's ideals, though, you lose yourself.
Here at The Kewl Shop, we're big advocates of blazing your own path in all areas of life -- fashion included of course.
How can you embrace the spirit of Kewl and live clean and unique (especially in a bandage dress)?
Grab your sledgehammer and get ready to break down the walls of your comfort zone. We human beings tend to unwittingly box ourselves in. We settle into a comfortable routine where we do the same things week after week and month after month with the same people. Always stay on the lookout for opportunities to stretch yourself, even in little things. Maybe that kid at your school who always eats lunch by herself is actually out-of-this world awesome, or maybe it's time you finally tried that weird-looking restaurant down the street.
What do you gain when you venture out of your self-made shelter? Lifehacker lists just a few of the benefits:
- You'll inspire your creative side.
- You'll be more productive.
- It will be easier for you to adapt to unexpected changes.
- You'll discover your true boundaries and learn how to push them.
The best perk of trying new things? You could uncover a lifelong passion and forge lasting friendships.
On the flip side, though, don't expect every new adventure to yield earth-shattering revelations. Sometimes the risks you take will result in disappointment, embarrassment, or even heartache. However, you should always keep in mind the words of the world's favorite dropout, Albert Einstein, "You never fail until you stop trying."
Of course, self-discovery is a lifelong journey. Never stop trying new things, and don't shy away from something just because it isn't trendy. There have been handfuls of people throughout history that have died for something that is important to them; you can put up with a little ridicule from your boxed-in peers. They're the ones who are missing out.
Don't Be Afraid to Say No
Blazing your own path involves a delicate balance. You have to keep yourself open, but not so open that you end up hurting yourself. A motorist never expects to get into an accident, but that doesn't mean he won't wear his seatbelt.
Resisting the pressure to do unwholesome things starts with empowering yourself. Some people have natural self-confidence, but if you're not one of those fortunate few, you can still cultivate the attitude you need to put up a wall between you and the baddies who would have you believe that doing illegal drugs or other unhealthy things is cool. Follow these tips:
- Write down the things that you like about yourself. It can be the way you look, your accomplishments, or your character strengths. If you have trouble making the list, ask your friends and family members what they like best about you.
- Eat a healthy diet and get plenty of sleep and exercise.
- Set small, realistic goals and achieve them. Checking little things off your list will give you the push you need to tackle bigger things.
- Strengthen your relationships with people who care about you.
- Define your values and why they are important to you.
Your ability to say no needs to extend beyond things that are obviously bad for you. Maybe your friends want to go out for movie night but you have a boatload of homework -- say thanks but no thanks. Your friends will understand, and you won't spend an entire movie thinking about that essay you need to write before Monday.
Sometimes, you must say no to yourself. Reaching your goals and walking your own road involves setting goals, and goals involve sacrifice. For example, maybe you want to take a huge trip and explore the world. Turn down the spa day with your besties and save your money so you can explore the far-flung corners of the globe.
Look Like You
Your body is your canvas, even if you never plan to get a tattoo. The way we look on the outside can send a powerful message about who we are, and it gives signals about our mood, our hobbies, even our goals. A carefully crafted closet can make you a trendsetter instead of a trend follower. Decide what you want your wardrobe to say, and then go shopping. Keep these tips in mind when you're revamping your closet:
- Color communicates mood. For example, blue is serene and cool, whereas red is fierce and attention-grabbing. Learn about the psychology behind colors and use that to your advantage. If you want to wear a certain hue but don't think that it goes well with your skin tone, find a handbag or other accessory that has the color you want and pair it with a neutral outfit.
- You should have an outfit on hand for every occasion. A curve-loving bandage dress is great for parties. A suit will give you the edge at job interviews. Keeping a nice selection of casual clothes on hand -- with pieces you can mix and match -- will help keep boredom at bay.
- Think about the messages you might unintentionally be sending. For instance, if you own the same sweater in eight different colors, it could be easy for others to think that you are in a fashion rut.
- Look for inspiration, not just in the outfits of people around you, but also in objects. Some cool lacy drapes could inspire your next awesome dress purchase.
Never Stop Learning
Blazing your own path doesn't mean that you have to make every decision on your own. Compile a list of resources that you can go to when you come to a fork in the road. Some places where you might turn are:
- Your parents. Sure, parents get a bad rap for being out of touch with their kids, but if you take the time to slow down and listen to what they have to say, you'll probably be surprised by the insights they offer. There is some cool lurking underneath that uber-responsible exterior.
- Your school guidance counselor. The guidance counselor at your school wants to help you shape your education and get your career started on the right foot. Counselors usually have a packed schedule, but don't let that stop you from asking a ton of questions about your education options.
- Coaches, your friends' parents, and other adults. They are eager to help young people set and reach goals, and they are full of rich experiences that they can share with you.
Weigh all the advice you receive carefully; don't dismiss it if it's something you don't want to hear. Also, don't take it to the other extreme and invest all your mental powers in the opinion of one confidant. Make decisions methodically by considering all the factors involved and the potential outcomes.
Also, take the initiative and be your own teacher. Reflect on your decisions, and view missteps as an opportunity to show what you're made of.
Always look for ways to learn. No, you don't have to watch the Discovery Channel all day, but you should foster curiosity. You have a smartphone, and along with it, you have the entire universe in your pocket. Apps that help you learn another language or that offer interesting facts can enrich your worldview and spark new ideas.
Set the Example
You have your role models, but are you anyone else's role model? Sometimes we get so caught up in what other people think of us that we forget about what they might do because of us. Without saying a word, you can help your peers -- and even people who are older than you -- to see things from a different perspective.
Most good role models share some common characteristics, including:
- Passion. What do you love? Are you truly passionate about it? By getting involved in what excites you, you inspire others to reach out for their own dreams.
- Values. We live in a society full of people who are all too eager to change their values based on popular opinion. When you stick to your values, you stick to yourself.
- A focus on others. As Anne Frank aptly stated, "No one has ever become poor by giving." This doesn't mean you should feel obligated to get involved with a charity -- although that isn't a bad idea -- it means you should always look for ways to connect with others and help them.
- Resilience. Obstacles and hardships are inevitable. How you deal with them will determine if you make your own path or fall off onto someone else's.
We constantly hear about how important it is to take responsibility and make our own way in the world, but then we get bombarded by media and peers that want to squeeze us into a certain mold. The key to standing out and living a cool, clean life is simple: explore yourself and the world around you, and don't hold back from sharing the things that are close to your heart.