How To Retain Your Creative Distinction In A World of Carbon Copies

Photo by Guilherme Stecanella on Unsplash

Growing up in the 90s, culture had an odd messaging mix. It was part “be who you want to be” and part “align with the trends.” I was a tomboy who never wanted to be a nurse or a teacher, and who would much rather be playing outside or reading fantasy novels than playing with the latest trending toy.

In high school and college, though, that spunky girl turned into an outwardly confident and inwardly uncertain young woman who had miles to go in her journey into true confidence. Despite that time, and perhaps because of it, I’ve been able to acknowledge my distinctness and grow into someone who is confident in who she is, and am capable of leaning into the fear that being different brings.

Are you the same way? Are you hiding who you want to become because you’re “happier” as a carbon copy? I want to challenge you to rethink what you view as happiness. Because your distinctness is better than following the trends.

Lean into the fear of being different

Retaining your creative distinction is actually how you handle fear. Fear of rejection, and even fear of success. Instead of becoming a carbon copy in your work, dare to be different. The more we lean into the fear, the better we’ll adapt to creating within it. Fear shouldn’t be pushed aside.

It needs to be acknowledged because it’s only when we lean into it that we create something truly distinct. Learning to, dare I say, enjoy the experiences fear pushes us into will result in a sense of creative fulfillment we won’t otherwise find if we’re living that carbon copy life.

Begin leaning into the fear by making conscious decisions to do that career move our mind is telling us to ignore. Or that project that we’re currently engaging in a “should I or shouldn’t I” fight with ourselves over.

When your new idea turns from excitement to fear, I challenge you to do it anyways. The fear won’t dissipate completely, but you will begin to live in a new normal filled with doing what you were born to do. That doesn’t have to be a cheesy idea, either. Let’s start fully living out our dreams and passionately pursuing them!

Create without looking at others’ work

I realize that creating without looking at others’ work is challenging. Especially after a scroll through Instagram during lunch. But as soon as we do that, we have a comparison. The more comparisons we have, the harder time we’ll have creating something distinct.

I recently started working on a new project, and it took me a week to begin researching what others in the space might be doing because the idea was still far too fragile. Once I began to solidify what I wanted, then I started to research what others may be doing. The comparisons are lurking in the back of my mind, but I refuse to entertain them. Instead, I’m focusing on my own creative distinction and what my unique combination of skills and ideas offers.

Never going online isn’t a very practical goal as a creative, so this focus is primarily on being intentional when you do. Avoid it before a creative session, and limit your daily time on it. You need to save your time for creating your own exceptional work, not watching others make theirs.

Retaining your creative distinction is possible. It does, though, take mental fortitude. You are a beautifully unique person who has an incredible story and an exciting future. It’s time to use it to become more than a carbon copy. We need to become our own original selves.

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