We all want to stand out and be recognized for the truly unique and wonderful fellas that we are. But in our unending quest for the recognition of our peers and outright thirst for social likes, things can get out of hand. Here are a few simple rules to follow in your quest to keep it real.
Rule No. 1
Never Have More Tattoos than Friends
Let's be clear. We have nothing against tattoos, they can be a genuine form of self-expression imbued with incredible meaning, but is a weekly ink session a sign of genuine artistic expression or a cry for attention? It should go without saying that they are about as permanent as it gets and getting to the point where excessive jewelry and tattoos become how you define yourself is an easy way to sell yourself short. Becoming a better version of yourself doesn’t mean getting more ink or more bling. Spending less time decorating your body and more time developing the relationships you have is a good investment in happiness. You’ll learn more about yourself and the world. A sick koi tattoo with finger waves looks cool but it isn’t going to let you crash on it’s couch if you lose your job.
(A hat like this only works if you're always looking for something on the horizon)
Rule No. 2
If You Have to Ask "Can I Pull this Off" the answer is "No"
We’ve all purchased a, shall we say ‘challenging’ article of clothing before, wondering if we could pull it off only to find without a doubt several days and hundreds of dollars later that the answer to that question is a resounding ‘no’. If you’re not sure if you’re the wide-brimmed-park-ranger-hat-type, just put it down and back away slowly. Your wallet and your self-esteem will thank you.
Rule No. 3
Keep your Private Life Private, Not on Social Media
(This image seems a bit dramatic, but we're going to roll with it).
We all follow that person that posts way too much on social media (and if you don’t know what we're talking about, you probably are that person). You know things about them you’re not even sure you know about yourself, or more to the point, you think you do. Giving everyone this level of access to your life and inviting them to essentially rate you (!) encourages decision-making based on direct or indirect peer pressure and is an exercise in damaging your self-esteem. In fact, numerous studies have shown that social media is leading to an increase in anxiety disorders in teens. Fortunately, limiting your social media use has the added benefit of allowing relationships to develop naturally, instead of entering into them with fully formed opinions about the other person based on an information source that is notoriously fake. It’s easier to be you and for others to discover who you really are when you start with a little bit of mystery.
Rule No. 4
Listen, Understand, then Speak
(Hang on girl, I'm listening, I just gotta check my mentions real quick)
As a species, we are not naturally good listeners. We just aren’t. We are often driven by ego in our daily conversations. The worst (read: EXTRA) among us are the people that just talk and talk and talk. You know the type, they can turn a conversation about how your dog just died into an hour long monologue about themselves. You’re often left looking around for the exits wondering if the conversation would continue without you (it probably would). These people rarely make real connections and almost never add any sort of value to the lives of others. Practicing active listening techniques where you truly understand, and more importantly feel, what the other person is saying, will ensure that you’re not the self-involved fool no one wants to talk to and that you’re building trust and respect in your relationships.
Rule No. 5
You Will Never Be a Finished Product
(I did it. I'm perfect now.)
This is perhaps the point that those of us with tendencies toward the EXTRA need to understand the most. You can’t cover up your shortcomings with tattoos and social media followers. We have to stop putting so much pressure on ourselves to be perfect. We are all works in progress and we can all get better. You don’t do it all at once, you do it gradually. Today you add a little bit of physical fitness into your life, next week you read a book, the week after you start taking better care of your appearance. Whatever the pace or the area of improvement, the point is to never stop improving. One day you’ll wake up to find you’re a rocket surgeon with a six pack who still has his eyes set on something bigger. The Japanese call this kaizen. If it’s good enough for 127 million people on an island in the Pacific Ocean, it’s good enough for you.
There it is. Five rules to keep your ego in check and start yourself on a more meaningful journey. No matter how hard you try, you’ll never be anyone but you. So instead of covering up your insecurities with the latest trends, try working on yourself a little bit. Read a book. Go to the gym. Ask yourself questions. Look inside and learn something about yourself.