Who You Are and What They Say
If you are confident, they will say you are arrogant.
If you are deliberate, they will say you are too sure of yourself.
If you have a sense of purpose, they will say you are self-absorbed.
If you know who you are, they will ask, “Who are you, anyway?”
If you believe in kindness and compassion, they will say you are naïve.
If you are a dreamer, they will say “join the real world.”
If you are a rebel, they will try to shut you down.
The instructions include:
rein it in
slow it down
wait it out
pull it back
take your time
play it safe
But you will know:
They are envious because they want what you have.
They are afraid of change even as they crave it.
They are projecting their own regret into resentment of you.
It’s not all bad news: some of them will sort themselves out and end up joining you. Because you are a good person and have had plenty of false starts of your own, you’ll understand and welcome them warmly. We’ve missed you! you’ll say. It’s about time you made it.
As for the others, well, you will remember what Gandhi said:
“First they ignore you, then they laugh at you, then they fight you, then you win.”
Love it. Shine your own light and you’ll stop worrying about everyone else – what they think, what they’re saying or what they’re doing. And perhaps, just perhaps, you’ll inspire others to do the same!
Chris, this is priceless. With what I’m going through right now, it hits the nail on the head. Truly inspired writing!
This MUST be read and shared–thank you for what you’re doing!
Could this be any greater? Hint: no.
Wonderful, I love the Gandhi quote- and i would add sometimes they join you 🙂
The other thing is that sometimes when you feel alone being a rebel etc people are watching and waiting- some to see you succeed too- they are often just to fearful to step outside their known zones.
So all you gotta do is be YOU 🙂 More of you, you, you. I mean me!
Hahaha! So true.
My instruction used to be, ‘You’ve got to get your head out of the clouds, my girl, and come back down to earth, you’re a dreamer.’ It took me quite a few years of my life to figure out that dreams are real things and should be treated with the respect they deserve; I had a ‘moment’ by the traffic lights when the fourth light switched on !
This is exactly what I needed to be reminded of today.
That the open-mouthed stares are as much in wonder and awe as they are in shock and horror;
That the shivers down your spine and the tingling in your tummy are how it feels when you’re doing it *so right*;
That at the end of the day, everyone is striving to live just like this, even if they don’t yet know it, and that the more you do it, the closer to it they’ll come, too.
Chris, this is brilliantly said. Thanks so much for being one of those who go before.
Thanks Chris–Perfect timing 🙂
This might very well be the best I’ve seen from you yet, Chris. Or perhaps it’s my attitude today. I love Gandhi … and Frankl, Buscaglia, too many to name. All those like you who follow in the footsteps of greatness.
Thanks for the work you do!
I have just spent a week re-establishing exactly this sentiment in my life… total bliss and thank you for putting this into words so perfectly!
And when you become successful, they say they supported you all along.
A message that needs to be spread. Well said, bro. 🙂
This past year has been filled with so much upheaval and major change in my life. The timing of this post couldn’t be any thing more than perfect!! My new screen saver 🙂
Thank you Chris!!
That’s awesome. You hit the nail right on the head with that. I can’t tell you how many times I have been told to join the real world and to “shut it down”. Much needed.
I’m amazed at the critics in this world that find nothing better to do than complain about others accomplishments and actions.
Time to be a confident, deliberate, kind, dreaming rebel:)
if your words were an object, they would be a flag.
that was like falling down a hill of perfect words. in perfect order.
thank you for that.
Thank you for writing my new auto-responder email to doubters, critics, bullies and cowards!
This is your finest post ever. Thank you. Could you it fit on a T-shirt? Because I’d buy one. Size L
Yes that’s what the naysayers say !! I love the thought of ” some of them will sort themselves out and end up joining you ” . Stay awesome.
Well put. Inspiring and thoughtful.
Speaks to me perfectly, Chris. I couldn’t have said it better myself. I think it’s the story of my life;-) Great inspiration!
p.s. Great meeting you in Denver last Friday!
Short, sweet and powerful. Here’s to living on our own terms!
“If you are a rebel, they will try to shut you down.” Alas, they are still trying. But, for the first time in many years, I’m resisting and forging ahead.
Thank you, Chris. Excellent post. Perfect timing.
Favorite article of yours in a long time. Very nice!
If I’m not for me, then who will be for me?
We are each writing our own story. How bold and outrageous can I make it? Only time will tell.
The best cheer in the world.
Worth chanting from the roof tops, or at least remembering in the morning when I confront the mirror and the day.
As always, gracias. 🙂
Inspiring and true!
People have been telling me that I need to get my head out of the clouds for 30 years now. For awhile, I believed them. Chris is one of the people who helped to realize that we need MORE dreamers, not fewer.
I agree with PAM- best post yet!! It seems there are so many of ‘them’ and so few of ‘us.’ That’s another reason why it feels so good to be a part of AONC… I get to be surrounded (electronically) by people like you guys.
Great stuff, Chris. I’ve felt the same way for a long time, but I think it’s something we all need to be reminded of again and again.
Chris, I have been reading your blog for a while now, slowly being more inspired day by day. I’ve been lurking quietly – but this post brought tears to my eyes.
Thank you for sharing your journey – it gives me so much hope!
I try to just explain where I’m going in a positive, upbeat way that doesn’t open it up for review. It doesn’t matter to me what people say ‘behind my back’. I just want to live an honest life and show how it can be done differently if chosen…not everyone has to choose my life but they do have to support it to be part of it.
All hail non-conformity! What a wonderful email to come home to after meeting with a group of energy vampires! Ahhh-sunshine ?
Great post. Dr. Seuss also said it well: “Today you are You, that is truer than true. There is no one alive who is Youer than You.”
I’ll join with Ariana and others who have told you that this post couldn’t have come at a better time in their lives.
When I read this post, I feel so much like the Ugly Duckling (a.k.a. swan or creative entrepreneur lol) who has finally arrived among her own kind after a long life of not quite fitting in:
“‘Goodness! How I’ve changed! I hardly recognize myself!’ The flight of swans winged north again and glided on to the pond. When the duckling saw them, he realized he was one of their kind, and soon made friends.”
Thank you so much.
Chris, LOVE this :-))). Coming at a time of upheaval for me also.
This is very well said Chris. And you’ve really hit the nail on the head with the line about “they are projecting their own regret”…
This projection, resentment and envy is a very real energy and it’s why so many cultures have symbols for warding off the effects of the “evil eye” – the look that seeks to tear down.
It helps me to remember, though, that underneath the projection is always a deep pain that comes from knowing they gave up on the very thing they see you doing.
Their heart wants to believe again – the tearing stuff down is just a distraction to keep from actually feeling it. When I remember this, it keeps me from meeting their resentment with my bitterness.
And sometimes, every once in a while, I can remember that I’m doing it as much for their hearts as for mine.
Wonderful words, and very inspiring to me right now. Thank you!
Thank you Chris. The timing of this could not be better.
rein it in
slow it down
wait it out
pull it back
take your time
play it safe
This post is awesome! Not much else needs to be said.
As always Chris, six gallons of awesome in a five-gallon bucket!
This is a winning message! I suspect that there is some insight
into your personal journey and success.
“if it is to be it is up to me” know and believe in
yourself…no one can do it for you!
Awesome and so true!!!!! I’ve started my own business making jewelry with the full intention of quitting my cubicle hell job in 411 days (yes I’m counting – I even have a sticky note on my desk where I change the number each day to remind myself that I’m not there forever!) But everyone has an opinion of why that will never happen, or it will be hard work, or the list goes on. Then I’ll think, I’m not sure who they’ve been related to/friends with all these years because I am a hard worker and I will make it happen! And then I read:
“They are envious because they want what you have.
They are afraid of change even as they crave it.
They are projecting their own regret into resentment of you.”
Perfect reminder! Thank you!
Thanks, that’s exactly what I needed to hear today!
Beautifully stated and great timing for me as well as I’ve been noticing an increase in this in my own life just over the past few days. I’ve been perplexed by strange e-mails, DMs, etc. from people proclaiming to me that I am “leaving myself wide open.” To which I ask, open to what? Unnecessary criticism from strangers? Because I didn’t realize I was in a battle or a debate and certainly didn’t sign up for one. I guess the best way to not “leave yourself wide open” is to never say or do anything. I, for one, don’t want to live my life with clenched fists and word things so they’re invulnerable. Being on constant lookout makes it hard to sit by the fire. It’s like what Brian recently said on the Copyblogger podcast about how you become a polarizing figure simply by having an opinion without backpedaling. Thank you for this post–hit home for me.
I love this. I’m sharing it with my friends. 🙂
Chris, rock on to all who know it’s time to shine as “who you truly are” standing firmly on your own two feet not filling anyone’s shoes-it’s enough to fill your own shoes and shine your own light. Playing small does not serve the world. “Our deepest fear is not that we are inadequate. Our deepest fear is that we are powerful beyond measure. It’s our light not our darkness that frightens us . . . As we let our own light shine we unconsciously give other people permission to do the same. As we are liberated from our own fear, our presence automatically liberates others”. Nelson Mandela
Reminds me of my favorite bumper sticker, which is on my car even as we speak:
“Those who abandon their dreams will discourage yours.”
Sadly, all too true.
But happily, means that air of discouragement has nothing to do with me. :^)
This is my whole life!
This is true. It’s best just to do your own thing and leave the haters behind. Ain’t no one going to hold my sexy down.
I wish I could think of something pithy and deep, but really all I could think as I reread it again and again is…wow, just wow! I absolutely LOVE the end…”we’ve missed you” and I would add “how may I serve you?”
Incredibly beautiful Chris…thank you:-)
Love that you “win” in the end. I like winning and I like doing it the right way.
Yeap – if they’re saying those things you know you’re living an authentic life.
Thanks for reminding me of my non-conformist manifesto.
I was totally jiving with you until the Gandhi quote.
Gandhi was talking from his specific context inside British occupied India and Dutch occupied South Africa. He was talking more broadly about liberation struggles of oppressed people. He certainly wasn’t talking about (myself included) rich-ish white men in America jetting around the world. That’s a total misappropriation.
No problem – but I’m not sure that’s what I was talking about either. 🙂
Yeah! WE WIN! World Domination getting closer and closer.
Thank you, Chris. This post is short but especially powerful. I also like Linda’s addition of “And when you become successful, they say they supported you all along.”
Thank you for this. Just what I needed to hear tonight.
Oh boy… do I hear you! But how to stay strong in the face of such resistance? I don’t know. But [somehow] the more I do… the less I care. And perhaps therein lies the secret. Ghandi knew. Smart man Ghandi!
Thanks for the reminder Chris 🙂
@Chris Fantastic, sir.
@Linda Ain’t that the truth?
Awesome article. I have had that Ghandi quote on my FB since college. I faced a lot of ridicule in my sorority just because I wouldn’t do what they wanted, though I was the one girl who didn’t do any drugs or drink they still looked down on me. That quote helped me get through it. There are a lot of good quotes out there that help actually. I also like the last lines of Invictus “I am the master of my fate I am the captain of my soul.” Although, I hate the quote “It is what it is” they use that too much in LA….there should be an explanation for everything and often times I argue and say no it’s not just IT it’s more than it and then I get in trouble. Damn me and my opinionated ways, but I hope I never change.
Like everyone else said, this really did come at the right time. Lately I’ve been contemplating between doing this lifestyle/career or that, because doing both would just be unconventional or too much. But I want to do both, do it all. This article is the perfect push to get me rolling.
This is so powerful, and exactly what I needed to hear today. It’s ironic that I work with young children, and hope to inspire them to be authentically and fully their own true wonderful selves, but I sometimes squash my own voice and passion, because I fear being too much, or not enough in other people’s eyes. Thank you for reminding me to be me, and to live into my dreams, no matter what anyone else says!
you said it :~)
walk your walk
talk your talk
your gut will tell you when you step out of sync
for we must answer ourselves daily
in all the choices we make
so think the good thought
and know that all you can do is affect yourself
world peace starts in the heart of each of us
One of your best posts. Things I’ve observed in my own life, but only passively and never took the time to write down.
I love it! Short but powerful. Started reading your blog very recently and now I eagerly wait for your next blog post. Thank you for the great article Chris:)
Sometimes less is more.
Wonderful. Read it first thing this morning here in Munich and it has set me up for the day.
Ditto Ruth’s: ‘I love the thought of ”some of them will sort themselves out and end up joining you.”’ This bit grabbed my attention, too. And thank you Gillian for: “I try to just explain where I’m going in a positive, upbeat way that doesn’t open it up for review.” The way you put that was a great reminder, as I’m learning not to invite opinions about my path.
Thanks Chris, as always.
This is stellar! Yes! Came at the right time. And, I had never heard of that Gandhi quote – love it.
This is a profound reflection — one I really needed today. Thank you, Chris.
Ditto ditto ditto!!! The more we listen to ourselves, the more of “us” shows up! Be true to yourself and follow your own path, use your own intuition, chase your own dreams!
Just what I needed when I needed it- big thanks!
Awesome post Chris! I love reading inspiring words like these… and know that there are other people in the world that share a different way of thinking.
I liked it, been thinking less than act on it, clicked and filled some gaps. Looking foward to read the other posts too.
Thanks for the time and effort writting it.
I started out like this in my 20s and I so really recognise some of these comments – then I gave in and believed “them” for far too long and so lost confiednce and my way. Now I am taking it back again, but encouragement like yours is great. Way to go!
You are so right….if only.: “we grow too soon old, and too late smart.” I wish I had known this when I was younger!! Remember what that character said in “It’s a Wonderful Life”?
“AWWWwwww, youth is wasted on the young!!”
Thanks for the reminder, Chris! Namaste, Nina
Powerful stuff. It does so much for me to know that you are real. I wont give up now. Thank you.
To thine own self be true ….
Really useful and insightful post. I like it
keep up the great work
Beautiful Chris. You voiced this for many of us who were feeling this, and at a time when we needed to hear it. Thankyou!
Perfectly formed, perfectly timed….thank you, Chris.
Awesome Chris. Wonderful words that touched my heart as they have others.
Thanks Chris. Great post. Short, sweet and to the point.
PERFECT! Short and right to the point. As I read it upon first waking not quite caffeinated I said to myself without reservation, YES this is what I am doing. I’ve missed me and it’s about time I made it. Thank you Chris.
Chris, You’ve been known to hit the nail on the head many times over, but this was very timely indeed!! Just recently someone said to me that I think “too highly” of myself. The comment obviously did not warrant a response but my first thoughts were along the same lines that you so aptly captured in your blog! Yay!
Just what I needed. Of course, others need it, too. You may say that I’m a dreamer, but I’m not the only one. . .
Great piece, Chris. Short & sweet
Okay, I’ll be the contrarian.
Certainly the critics are out there, but I know plenty of confident, intentional, purposeful folks who don’t seem to attract much criticism. Why? Seems that they don’t spend time pointing out that they’re confident, intentional, and purposeful. They’re too busy just doing what they’re doing.
I know you’ve said before that “every community needs an enemy.” Maybe, but you don’t need to go looking for, or intentionally provoking, that enemy.
Unless that’s your goal.
Simply beautiful, Chris! And the timing could not be better. 🙂
Thanks Chris, I needed that this morning. See you Thursday in Houston.
I love this! Thank you, Chris.
So true! I’ve experienced this first hand. By pushing beyond what others think you are capable of, you become threatening. But with any luck, your actions will shake up someone’s world enough that it encourages them to do the same!
Hey Chris, This is great. Thank you. What a pick-me-up. I have one for you. Once, while working in a really horrible situation (on a movie shooting outside at -44C) I was told to “Think Samurai” by one of the cast. It’s still my motto. I don’t always win, and I may be bowed, but I’m not cowed.
Thanks for this, Chris. Moving slowly from the being ignored to the being laughed at. And riding the edge. Hope the tour is going well. M
Brief. Ballsy. Powerful.
What a mantra.
The best thing I’ve read this week. I know it’s only the beginning of the week, but still. This is an awesome way to kick it off.
Powerful and inspiring. I needed to hear this, especially today!
Thank you Thank you Thank you Chris.
I love your insights.
It needs to be shared!
A better jolt than my first cup of coffee for the day! Thanks, Chris! Yesterday I received my next “big adventure” assignment and the “What am I doing?!” conversation took less than 30 seconds this time around…the more I live fully the less fearful I become!
Thank you again Chris. Been feeling “selfish” lately due to some recent feedback so this was good timing.
As usual, yet another timely post. Thank you!
Your message is very respectable, and appreciated. Please keep that in mind, while I offer this criticism, that may contribute to a balanced view. That is, let us remember that there are also no shortage of people:
– Who are arrogant, but desperately want to prove they are confident
– Who are not sure of themselves, but want to advertise they are deliberate
– Who are too lost in self-absrobtion to have any sense of purpose
– Who have no idea who they are, and can’t answer the question “Who are you, anyway?”
– Who are too naive to understand what true kindess and compassion is
– Who are clueless and drunkards in the real world, but think they are dreamers
and last but not least:
– Who are delusional they are rebels because they somehow always manage to see themselves as victims being shut down
I do not mean to direct this at anyone in particular, but all around me I see the above traits (in myself included) more than I see the opposite.
Brilliant, Chris! Thanks for the reminder and the inspiration. I’m going to share this with friends and family and print out a copy to keep near my desk. Many thanks!
The haters are gonna hate. If you have people criticizing you, it’s of my opinion that you’re doing something right. Life is not about pleasing everybody else (because it’s never gonna happen)! Life is about doing what you love and spending time with those you love. This post was very inspirational, Chris!
Brilliant, Chris. This is the kind of post all of us bloggers hope and dream of putting out there- truths so sharp you could cut yourself on it, if it weren’t so damn relatable.
In response to Rich, above- Maybe your friends have been lucky enough to be surrounded by a more enlightened crowd, but there are so many people who can’t Help but feel threatened by those who are certain of themselves. Some of the sweetest and most modest kids I know still get cut by their peers and shit talked about them behind their backs, simply for existing as who they are. Maybe that’s just because we’re still at college, but something about the popularity of this post tells me that the negativity pervades the rest of society just as much.
Not to mention that sometimes you Definitely need to provoke the enemy. Fighting them doesn’t have to be an overarching goal, but things “they say” need to be challenged because they represent limiting paradigms we’ve all harbored, at one point or another!
Amazing, simple but straight to the point post. Thanks Chris for giving me more validation to keep on dreaming big.
Know who you are, confident, deliberate and with compassion for our acts of rebellion we harvest in our dreams.
Great ….. nice one
Your posts are always insightful, but now you’ve confirmed it for me – you’re a true paisan!
All growing up, I thought something was wrong with how square my peg was. Everyone tried to shave something off. I never let them – don’t know how – but I just didn’t. Mother always said “You’re too much for people” – bestowing the blessing and curse all at once. Years later, I realized my clueless determination evoked FEAR, of all things, and those reactions were about THEM and not me. What a relief!
Nothing has changed. My beat is my own making and I’m used to the baffled looks. But more importantly, this quality allows me to size up people and situations very quickly. When you’re a lightning rod, you can see things through the simultaneous light and shadow. It’s my one super power and, thankfully, I’m not the only one with it!
Keep lighting it up Chris!!
After a day of having my blog bullied about on a social media site by a few resentful rogues, I spent last evening reflecting on what I had done to deserve the sort of remarks that were made about a post I made that had nothing but nice things to say about a local artist. It hurt me so much, I actually wept until I slept. I simply couldn’t shake the sting of the meanness that had come from the darkness of the hearts of those who criticize me for not being a critic.
However, this afternoon, a friend sent me a link to this page, and I couldn’t be more grateful! Your words here gladden my heart, and give me new hope, just in time for Thanksgiving. Good for you, thanks so much.
“Be who you are and say what you feel because those who mind don’t matter and those who matter don’t mind.”
Chris, if you turned this into a poster? I would buy it and hang it in my office.
I’m just saying. 🙂
Thanks for the night-shift uplift!
Love this! Years of listening to people like that turned me into a self-conscious, self-doubting, sad little girl. The past few years I have been rebuilding who I used to be and ignoring the haters. Happiness ensues.
Thanks for reminding me of how awesome I am! 😛
This was perfect timing. Just what I needed to hear today! 🙂
Just the words I needed to read today! New to your site and I will keep coming back.
All of those shut-down comments reminded me of my much younger years, and then I became ill. For 3 disappearing years I’ve allowed my illnesses to define who I am; NO MORE! Recently, I decided to reclaim my dignity and my integrity. I’ll never be how I was in my youth, but my constitution is who I am, nonetheless. Now, I create a new reality, acknowledging the limitations, but not allowing them to dictate my worth. Learning to strive and thrive…ever forward, with hope, peace, and love?
@ Leigh Anne – I agree with a poster version! I was thinking to just print the post off to tape somewhere near my desk (lol)…But a poster I would buy and love!
Esp to encourage my own kids who are unique and already getting beaten down at a young age for their plans and ideas.
I got a lot of that in primary school. They kept sneering, “You think you’re so good!” I didn’t, you know. I thought I was a worm. It took about 20 years to realize that what they meant was, “I fear you’re better than me.”
Today I realized that the cage bars have gone, and it’s time to stretch my wings and fly.
Thanks for dropping the key.
Hey! That’s a picture of where I live: Karachi, Pakistan!
Chris, you’re absolutely right about this one.
“First they ignore you, then they laugh at you, then they fight you, then you win.” – great words. I just have to put it on my screensaver 🙂
Thanks for article, it was good.
One for the cause. Changing the world. Awesome
Fist-pumping and a full-throated “Hell yeah!” happened right after I read this for the first time.
Now that I’ve read this for the fourth time, I’m going to print it out and put it up on my wall so I can be reminded everyday of my decision to think for myself.
Thank you for your writing. You’re changing lives.
These are awesome words Chris. Others around us get uncomfortable when we want to change the status quo. They don’t want us rocking their comfortable, although boring, boat. When we do something different however, we are gonna make waves. Ha! Keep on rocking the boat.
Cheers Chris, I really enjoyed this. I agree with the poster comment. Would be a great reminder to hang on a wall somewhere and be inspired every time you walk by.
This post couldn’t have had better timing. I love the message. Time to erase guilt and start living.
So inspiring. Reminds us to keep swimming upstream. Thanks.
Hey, This article has actually helped me chose a path to follow. Thanks for the great information and keep up the good work!
This is so very true, in fact it’s taken me decades to realize that this same situation is happening to me, only the person is a family member. Guess that’s why I didn’t see it sooner. Thank you for writing this!
I wish I’d seen this when it was published! Especially: “They are projecting their own regret into resentment of you.” I used to own their regret, not realizing that’s what it was, assuming it was my own shortcomings. I still have to fight it, but I do. Thank you for my new motto via Ghandi: “First they ignore you, then they laugh at you, then they fight you, then you win.” There was a time I wouldn’t even have believed this could apply to me, but now I recognize that many of the people around me ignore me, laugh at me and fight me. At last, I’m winning. The good part of this struggle is the depth it has wrought in me. I am better for the struggle.
On a day when I needed all the encouragement I could get I find this, thank you so much.
I am going to make my own poster. I hope that’s ok. A wise woman once told me “its not about what ‘they need to hear’, It is about what it is that is yours to say.” I am sure I am still too much but I am me and what they say is them. I am proud of all that I am and take full responsibility for that, and credit too and I say what I need to say.
My 39 year old son gave me the greatest compliment the other day. Mum he said, your epitaph will be “she sucked the marrow out of life.”
That made me feel really good after all the naysayers we come across in life!
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