Not Being "Unique" Enough
No matter how hard I trained, I never became the most talked-about sprinter. I was up there on the top all performer's list, but never number one.
I look back on my athletic career (high school and college) and think, "Even though I gave my whole life to training like a champion, I still fell short." It makes me think of that dreaded word—mediocrity. However, I later had to realize that my hard work still impacted someone, whether I knew it or not.
A moment in San Francisco turned that light bulb on for me. I was at an invitational meet. While I was warming up, a high school sprinter approached me. Her dad stood in a short distance behind her.
"Hi!" she said in her little small voice.
"Hey! How's it going?" I responded
"I'm doing ok… I was wondering, can I have your autograph? I never ran with a Pac-12 athlete before."
I was stunned. Out of all the other Pac-12 athletes that were there, she chose me. So, I hesitantly told her:
"Wow! That's so cool. Of course!" I proceeded to sign the little paper she handed me, feeling completely inadequate (like you couldn’t even google me back then).
She hugged me, and I encouraged her to keep working hard, and someone will be asking for her autograph one day. She went off to start warming up. Shortly, her dad came up to me and asked, "You look very familiar? Have I seen you before? Who did you run for in high school?"
I answered all of his questions. He recognized my name. Then, he thanked me for signing his daughter’s paper, and admonished me to keep working hard, and God will bless me to keep inspiring others.
That was in 2012. Here I am thinking how mediocre my athletic career was, but in all honesty, it wasn't. The beauty of the world and the vast population of humanity is, there's not any one person that can fit every single individual (unless you’re Jesus Christ).
Unique is not about being so original that you are the stand-alone (insert title here) in your industry. Being unique is honestly pursuing the thing you love with no limitations on yourself. Let me say it another way.
As a personal branding photographer (photographer in general), I have about 1,000+ peers in Los Angeles alone. But, even the BEST photographer in LA couldn't book every single person that needed a photographer. What if that top photographer's style was moody and dark? A Go-getter who wants a light and airy aesthetic would have to choose someone else, REGARDLESS of how famous that photographer is.
Don't compare yourself or try to be original (there’s hardly an original idea in existence nowadays). If you are a blogger who journals the top places in SoCal to eat but also wants to add a "Chef's Recipes" to your site because you're brave enough to ask the restaurant's chef for the recipe, then do it! Don't hold yourself back by refusing to do it because you found out the top food blogger is doing the same thing on a national scale. There's a particular reach you have that the other blogger doesn't.
Don't be afraid to share and celebrate the people who are in your field too. There may be substitutes and imitations, but they can’t be you.
Have a good one!
Charnell, Your Photographer
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