Staying True to Your Vision in a Sea of Sameness

Her vision has been consistent for nearly a month. That kind of consistency is unheard of in the world of four-year-olds.

When we asked my daughter earlier in the month what she wanted to be for Halloween, she told my wife and me, “I want to be a Fairy Batgirl.” This isn’t unusual in our house. Last year she went as an “Astronaut Princess.”

Not knowing what the hell a “Fairy Batgirl” is, we agreed, trying to walk the parenting tightrope that involves encouragement, but not indulgence. (My only goal as a Dad is to NOT crush my kids’ dreams with my own cynicism.)

We asked her what a “Fairy Batgirl” might look like.

Without missing a beat she said, “All black clothes, black gloves, with a bat on my chest, fairy wings, a wand, and a tiara. Oh, and a mask!”

Standing Out

When I dropped her off at school, I had a twinge of panic. As I looked at the other 12-13 kids in class, it was a sea of superheroes and princesses - all store bought.

My daughter was the only one with a homemade costume. And certainly the only one with such a unique hybrid of fantasy. Captain America and Princess Aurora were definitely not rocking the blend of sophistication and power that Fairy Batgirl was.

I did a little self-talk as I walked to my car. Clearly my panic was about my own comparisons. Would the other parents or kids think her costume was strange? Did they look at us as “poor” because we made our own instead of buying one? Would she be self-conscious about her choice?

My daughter? She couldn’t care less. And I’m sure the other kids didn’t either. 

See, my daughter knew exactly what she wanted and she went for it. She didn’t worry about what other kids might say. She didn’t get caught up in comparing her costume to the others. And she certainly didn’t hide her homemade wand or wings.

Actually, she was proud of her costume, telling others about it and complimenting them on theirs (I mean, look at that smile!).

Her outfit of all black, fairy wings, wand, tiara, and sparkles on her cheeks set her apart. And that makes her braver than me...hell, braver than most adults I know.

I’d like to be more like my daughter in that respect.

Fighting the Comparison Monster

Comparisons are crippling, especially when you're building a business. Yet as an adult, a parent, and a business owner, it’s nearly impossible to avoid.

It’s impossible not to look at someone’s six figure launch and feel inadequate. 

It’s impossible not to want the clientele someone else has.

It’s impossible not to look at my own business and feel like someone else’s is better.

It's impossible not to feel like a fraud every time I promise someone I can deliver.

But I was reminded this morning - by a four-year-old - that none of that other stuff matters. It’s not important what everyone else is doing.

Sticking with your vision and executing it is all that matters.

I worry that some day - maybe soon - my daughter won’t want to create her own costume. That she’ll be pressured into being another superhero or princess like the other kids. To blend in. To give up her vision. To forget her uniqueness because no one else is doing what she's doing.

I’m worried that she’ll give in to the comparison monster we must all face.

I’ll do my best to remind her - as I have to constantly remind myself - that it’s okay. In fact, it’s the best thing.

Because when you really stop to look around, we’re all surrounded by a sea of sameness every day. The same ads. The same lists. The same houses. The same lack of vision.

And the only way to rise above it is to stick to your guns - no matter how hard it may be. To stop worrying about what works for everyone else and only focus on what works for you. People will want to make you like them. It’s more comfortable for everyone that way.

But staying true to your vision - whatever that may be for you - is THE ONLY THING that really matters.

The person who is courageous enough to be themselves, to have a voice and a vision and execute on it, is the person who attracts others.

They're the ones with something to say. They’re the ones we want to do business with. They’re the ones who really save the day when we all need to be saved. Especially when it's from our ourselves.

To be nobody but yourself in a world which is doing its best, night and day, to make you everybody else means to fight the hardest battle which any human being can fight; and never stop fighting.
— e. e. cummings