Years ago, when I first got to California, I spent a lot of time at auditions. If you’re into acting, you know that auditions are where you go if you want to feel horrendously un-special. At each one, you’re surrounded by a hundred people who look, dress, and walk exactly like you, except they’re all prettier. And they’re your competition.
Of course, I always wanted to fit in. To be like them. If l were more like them, I believed, I’d get the part. If I were just like the others, my paradoxical brain suggested, I’d stand out as a star.
Here’s what was in style at the time: light blue jeans, white tee shirt, and white cowboy boots. (Yep, white.) That’s what all the cool girls were wearing, so that’s what I wanted to wear, too.
So I saved up all my waitressing money, and I went out and bought that exact outfit. Then, I wore it one day walking proudly through Beverly Hills, where I passed three girls, all wearing a variation of the same outfit.
And I thought, My god. I’ve spent all this time and money and energy trying to look exactly like them. And now…I look exactly like them.
I didn’t stand out at all.
I told that to my acting teacher when I saw him next. “Yeah,” he said, “And I hate to tell you this, but those colors don’t even look that good on you. White just washes you out. You should go see my friend, she’s a colorist. She’ll tell you what looks good on you.”
Great, I thought. A colorist? How is she going to help me? But I went, and honestly, it changed my life. The blues and whites that were so “in” were out the window, for me. She put me in corals, bright greens, reds, these fiery, strong, energizing colors. They weren’t the most in vogue. But I felt powerful wearing them. And, she told me, I rocked them.
Soon after, I went to an audition wearing a lime green shirt. The casting person did a double take when she saw me. “Wow,” she said. “That shirt looks amazing on you. Your entire wardrobe should be that color.”
My efforts to blend in didn’t pay off. But when I was ready to be my own unique self – and dress like it – that’s when I stood out as special.
That lesson doesn’t just apply to clothing. Where in life are you trying to fit in? What’s something you’re doing that you could do so much better, if you just let your own light shine?
Maybe it’s in your business or career. How can you play to your strengths, instead of trying to prove you’re good enough?
Is it in your relationships? Are you trying to live up to someone else’s standard, instead of your own?
Or maybe it’s in your lifestyle. Does your home, work, clothing, eating habits – do they reflect who you really are?
It takes courage to stand up and own your life story, your strengths, your true colors. We’re afraid that people will judge, or that they won’t take us seriously. But you know what happens when you let your unique self show? It inspires other people to do the same. As Marianne Williamson said, “Our deepest fear is not that we are inadequate. Our deepest fear is that we are powerful beyond measure. It is our light, not our darkness, that most frightens us.”
What’s one thing you can do today to start to step up and stand out?
Put on that lime green shirt – whatever that is for you – and shine.