Scared To Stand Out

Frightened by the Idea of Being Different

Brian Fabel
Brian Fabel
Business Analyst

Our society breeds homogeneity and it's holding you back.

From an early age, you are told to fit in:

  • Color inside the lines, 
  • Dress like the other kids, 
  • Don't stand out, don't disrupt
  • Blend into the group
  • Just. Fit. In.

But it's a wicked paradox. While we yearn to fit in and be accepted, we simultaneously admire people who are uniquely themselves. 

My story

At 8 years old, our family moved and it was really hard on me. My father’s career took our family from Georgia to Maryland; from a slow pace of life to the hustle-and-bustle.

I was filled with anxiety at the thought of starting over and making all-new friends. When I arrived, I felt the pressure to fit in, and so, I immediately got to work. I changed:

  1. my accent (from a deep Georgia-peach southern drawl),
  2. the sports teams I rooted for, 
  3. even how I wore my baseball cap. 

The race was on to convince everyone I was “like them” before they made me the butt of their jokes.

I did all of this out of fear. 

Deep down, I wanted to be back with my friends in Georgia; I wanted safety, I wanted to be accepted and not have to worry if I was good enough. 

It worked (but at what cost?) 

I made new friends, and I wish I could say it was all ok. 

But, the fear never left. I always had to fortify my social position with a facade of strong associations. 

It was like a toxic relationship or a drug addiction—always looking at how everyone else acted and imitating their style so my status didn’t slip.

give me the gist
Our society often pushes us to conform and fit in, but it's important to remember that being uniquely ourselves is something to be admired. When I was younger, I moved to a new town and felt the pressure to fit in and change parts of myself in order to be accepted. However, as I got older and found my passions and interests, I began to confidently be myself and share that with the world. Being ourselves allows us to offer something no one else can, and it's important to have the courage to embrace our unique qualities. By being ourselves, we can stand out and innovate.

The confidence to be myself

I don't remember when it happened, but I began to have my own unique aspirations. It started with my interest in automobiles. I stayed up all night reading articles in magazines and automobile encyclopedias. For my high school senior project, I made a website that was all about my first cars—I was finally motivated in school!

Slowly, I changed. And so did what mattered to me.

I made new friends around my shared interests with others. Most importantly, it took me out of my own fear-ridden head and put me in the moment. My passion for cars quieted my desire to be liked. Confidence came from being uniquely me and sharing that with the world.

Be yourself and you will stand out — and, in turn, innovate

I’ll conclude with another anecdote from my teenage years, my interest in rap music. In an interview discussing innovations in rapping styles, two of the most influential in the game said this:

“When a person decides to be themselves, they offer something else no one else can be.”  - 50 Cent
“Once you be you, who can be you…. but you?” - Snoop Dogg 

Great innovators are themselves. They have the courage to unleash their competitive advantage. Trust yourself, be you… and discover your Only.

Are you ready to stand out? Find your Only.

Keep the content coming

Get a steady flow of business know-how delivered right to your inbox.

More from the team