26 March 2024

Are you really just fitting in?

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three people at an office desk and one man using a laptop by himself

Being honest with yourself is the smartest thing you can do. Photo: StartUp Mindset.

Bruce Kasanoff urges his readers to ask whether they have achieved true happiness for themselves, or for simply what society expects of them.

The words ”Know Thyself” were carved into stone at the entrance to Apollo’s temple at Delphi in Greece, but over the years that goal has come and gone from society numerous times.

If we were building a magnificent temple today, a more accurate reflection of our times might be ”Fit In”. We are pushed to be popular, successful and in conformance. Even our most innovative entrepreneurs are under pressure to be different, but not that different. As a result, it becomes easy to deceive ourselves.

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When you ask yourself: ”What do I want?” you really are asking yourself: ”What do I want out of the socially acceptable choices?”

Seven years ago, it dawned on me that I wasn’t happy. At the time, I thought my life was amazing. Yes, those are two contradictory thoughts. I was surrounded by wonderful friends and family. I had two nice houses and three delightful dogs. Money wasn’t an issue. Most people would have described me as successful.

This is important: It took me a very long time to realise, and then accept, that I wasn’t happy. It wasn’t anyone’s fault. It also wasn’t a desperate problem; it was more like a relentless current that I could feel beneath the surface.

Let’s fast-forward. Lots of things shifted in my life. I grew up. I took responsibility. It got easier and easier for me to smile. This wasn’t due to any one outward change; it was because I changed on the inside.

Out of all the people who read my posts, I have no idea which of you are in a place similar to where I was seven years ago, but I am pretty confident that at least 20 per cent of you are.

The hardest part of my journey was the first step. It was daring to tell myself the truth, that despite my many blessings, I wasn’t happy. It felt terrifying, inappropriate and self-indulgent to entertain such a thought — it wasn’t.

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Being truthful with myself was the smartest thing I’ve ever done. It launched a habit that today enables me to help other people to be honest with themselves. I’m not telling you what to do; I’m not suggesting you are ”happy” or ”sad”, or that you ”fit in” or ”don’t fit in”.

I’m simply asking you whether you are being 100 per cent honest with yourself. If you are, I am truly happy for you, wherever that honesty leads you. If you aren’t, you have the option to change, starting right now.

Bruce Kasanoff is the founder of The Journey, a newsletter for positive, uplifting and accomplished professionals. He is also an executive coach and social media ghostwriter for entrepreneurs. He can be contacted at kasanoff.com. This article first appeared at kasanoff.com.

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