‘You do You, babe’ is something VH says to me on a fairly regular basis. While it’s normally in response to us not agreeing on something I want to do and is often used semi-sarcastically, it’s something I’ve learned to take to heart over the last few years. Being a creative type with a dream of working from home, I run into a lot of naysayers and negative types. Being a little on the unique side, having tattoos and colored hair, I’m often on the receiving end of a lot of unwelcome opinions and ‘tips’ on life.
We all encounter the opinions as well as the wishes and hopes (and expectations) that others have for us, but when it comes down to it you really just have to do you.
The funny thing about doing you – I mean really doing and owning it – is that, while some people may have negative things to say or disapprove of your choices, you begin to attract supportive, amazing people into your life. The more you own your choices and who you are, the more confident you become and, as a result of the things and people you begin to attract into your life, the happier you become.
‘You do you’ is advice that sounds relatively easy, but sometimes it takes a lot of guts. When your choices or desires go against the grain of society, or even just that of your close friends and family, it can be hard to step up and own it. I love having colored hair, for instance. LOVE it. But, my family has a tendency to pick on me for ‘letting the kids color on’ my hair (again), or well-meaning people tell me that I’m not going to ‘get anywhere’ or will attract ‘a lesser caliber of people’ and ‘not be taken seriously’. I once had a ‘friend’ ask me to change my picture on LinkedIn because she didn’t want potential employers to see people with teal hair recommending her. True story. (For the record, I removed my recommendations before I changed my picture – who says something like that to a friend?).
And, for a long time, I believed these things. I believed that I had to curb who I was to fit in, be accepted, and make it in this world. Then, about a month ago, I was having a discussion with some successful, well-known social media people and one of them said ‘You’re dying your hair back before the event, right? You’re Vagabond Shai…you have to have teal hair. You’re the girl with teal hair – it’s your trademark!‘. And it’s not my trademark because I dye it teal, it’s my trademark because I own it.
Erika Napoletano is a famous business adventurer and writer who has a full sleeve and is known for spouting four-letter words, and she these aren’t just things about her separate from her business, they’re things that people expect from and love about her, because she owns it.
Steve Jobs broke into the world of electronics with weird designs and atypical presentations that went against everything you would learn in design or marketing classes, and he went on to make billions because he owned his personal brand and what he believed in. Design, marketing, and communications classes now often teach the ‘Steve Jobs’ model.
VH, while not famous, goes against what’s generally accepted in society in terms of being social and relationships with others – he’s not a social creature, doesn’t much like people, and has an awesome way of telling you how it is. And, instead of forcing himself to interact, putting on a smile and pretending he loves people or social gatherings, or giving people advice they want to hear, he owns who he is. And you know what? He’s happy. He’s comfortable in his own skin, and happy with the choices he makes. And, the people with whom he is close love him for these things.
Having teal hair, obviously, isn’t ‘part of who I am’ – it’s a choice that I make, just like getting tattoos, doing social media, or running an Etsy shop. But, it’s a choice that puts a smile on my face and happy people are more confident people.
If you want to give yourself teal bangs, or shave your head (if you’re a girl), or rock a full-sleeve, just do it. If you want to chase an atypical dream job, just do it! If you want to major in art or English or history, or run away and join the circus (I know someone who did that, actually…and she’s kind of awesome), or have five kids instead of the generally-accepted two, or >insertwhatevermakesyouhappyhere< – just do it!
Life is short, and we only get one – so you do you!