Our lives are built as a series of infinite compounds of interactions that can never be repeated. So, although almost everything has been done before, your unique, one in over seven billion, history brings a fresh perspective to anything that you do. Embrace that perspective. Embrace your history. Embrace your uniqueness. Originality, although it may seem like a simple concept, in this world full of trends, it’s actually quite a complex idea to master.
So how do we differentiate copying from inspiration? I believe the answer is in our relationship with ourselves. Are we in tune with ourselves enough to know what we genuinely like and dislike? Are you buying those shoes because it’s the latest drop or are you buying them because they fit your personal style? Are you going to the party because you want to or because you’re afraid you’re gonna miss out?
We’ve all done this, hopped on trends whether it be fashion or a stunt for Tik Tok, so we don’t miss out or to gain popularity but when you dig in and evaluate ‘why?’ you can use that information to step into your true identity. A key component into why we follow these trends or join movements is simply the human condition to connect. And connection is a necessary and beautiful thing, it’s the reason DOPE Water exists. But it’s connecting with other people while still staying true to ourselves and embracing the originality in others. So how do you step into your originality? Start by asking yourself these questions:
1. What are the top 5 – 10 things you love doing?
What makes you feel exhilarated? What can you do for hours and not look up? What makes you happy? Is it playing your favorite video game, working on your car, drawing, reading, baking, skateboarding, dancing, playing guitar, singing?
2. What are your favorite memories?
Is there a memory or two that you always think about that makes you happy? Was anyone with you? What were you doing? Where were you? What is it about that memory that stirs your emotions? Drawing upon these memories can spark your creativity and help create new passions.
For example, growing up my family made wine. I’m not a huge drinker but going to the same place to by grapes that my grandfather went to for decades is one of my favorite memories and to this day it’s my favorite family tradition. It makes me proud of where I came from, and it reminds me of the stories and the things he went through to get our family here.
3. What was your favorite trip(s)?
Where did you go? What happened on the trip? Was there a particular moment that was your favorite? Did it spark something inside of you? What did you see and do?
My favorite trip was a trip to Salt Lake City, Utah. Out of all the places I’ve been it certainly isn’t my favorite place (New York holds that card for me) but it will always stand out in my memory. It was my first solo travelling trip I was going out there to visit a friend who lived up in the mountains. I skied, snow shoed, explored but because my friend was working, I spend a lot of time alone. It was the most time I’d ever spent by myself, and I got to know me on the deepest level. It sparked my love for travel, alone time, winter and getting to continue to know myself.
4. How can you branch yourself out to new things (trips, hobbies, etc.)?
We’re only going to know what we like and dislike by trying new things, and this can be done on a budget. You can take day trips to new areas, try a new coffee shop, take a class in something you’ve always wanted to learn.
I’ve always wanted to paint. I don’t know why, I know nothing about art or famous painters but it’s something I wanted to do. For my birthday I was surprised with a painting class, and I LOVED it! Am I going to be a famous painter? Probably not but It’s another way for me to express my creativity and that’s good enough for me.
5. Is there a difficult situation or experience that you got through that you believed help shape you into who you are?
We all go through shit. We all have trauma. It’s an unfortunate product of life. But these traumas and hard times are what molds us and gives us shape. Sometimes we need to reframe these events and turn them into fuel that moves us forward instead of fear that keeps us in our comfortable, familiar lane.
One of those situations that comes to mind for me happened very early on in my career as a musician. I got asked to sing the National Anthem for a national sporting event. At this point I had sung the song easily 100k times for events both small and large, it’s safe to say I had my 10,000 hours - this should have been a no brainer performance. However, when I got to the middle of the arena with a sold-out stadium crowd watching and some of the most iconic athletes standing next to me, I choaked. I fumbled a few words, recovered, and finished the song. If we’re being honest, there have been worse blunders of that song but for me it left me traumatized. I vowed that I would never sing that song again and it got to a point that I wouldn’t watch anyone else sing it either.
Fast forward 10 years and I got another opportunity to sing the song for the same team. At first, I said HEEELLLLL NO! And then I took a breath and said yes. I broke every vow and promise I made to myself, but I had to reframe this in my mind. I needed a new end to the story. So, the day of my performance I went alone and did whatever I needed to do to stay calm and focused. And, well, I nailed it. Not only did I not choak, after I walked off one of the managers said, “in my 25 years here that was one of the best anthems I’ve ever heard.” Now they could’ve been just saying that to make me feel good but that’s not the point. It changed the narrative in my brain and gave me a comeback story and a new, happier ending.
Reflecting on our pain points and finding the lesson, even if the lesson is that that was fucking horrible, but I made it through and that makes me strong as shit.
6. Who are 3 – 5 people that you admire and why?
Are there people in your life that inspire you? Is someone who has acted as a mentor? What artist, athlete, author, entrepreneur, celebrity do you look up to and why?
As an artist myself I was always inspired by Motown and power singers. Aretha Franklin is my QUEEN! The power, passion and rawness of her voice and talent always blows me away and inspires me. As a child, Oprah Winfrey was my first hero. I would come home from school and watch her show and she was the first person who taught me about philanthropy and giving and gratitude and made me want to live my life for a greater purpose. My parents would be my third influences. They taught me how to work hard, to dream big, to be loyal, how to make it through difficulties and how to see things through. When I evaluate my mentors or the people I admire or the people I invest my time and money into, it’s not for superficial reasons. I gain value in their stories, knowing what they went through and how they overcame their adversities.
Answering these questions are to help you get in touch with yourself. To get to know you better. Only then can you tap into your originality.
Should you, or should you not, tell someone about your dreams before you actively begin to pursue them?
You have an idea, dream or goal and something swells on the inside of you. Passion. Commitment. Excitement. Then maybe life happens but you can’t shake this dream. So, what do you do? Do you tell someone? Maybe a close friend or family member? Or do you keep it to yourself and get to work?
There have been numerous studies that have shown that prematurely expressing your goals to someone can negatively affect your results and commitment your goal. When you set a goal or have a dream there are steps that naturally need to be taken to achieve it. You make an action plan, break your goal down into smaller steps, and get to work. Telling someone about your dreams before this process tricks your brain into believing it’s already begun the work.
You release the same chemicals in your brain that you do when you start working on your dreams and sets your brain in a premature state of accomplishment. This premature state results in less achievement and productivity towards our goals.
Waiting until you’ve taken your first few steps and really started working on your goals to tell a mentor or trusted friend or family member can be more beneficial and yield the greatest results in the pursuit of your dreams.
1. Break down what we think we know.
It’s no surprise that we make snap decisions. We see people and we get that “first impression.” According to scientists, it takes 1/10th of a second to form a first impression, but how many of our first impressions end up being correct? People are so much more than the box or category we naturally put them in give them a chance to broaden your horizons and show you.
2. Elevate your mental fit game.
According to Psychology Today, we NEED human interaction. They’re calling it the “Loneliness Crisis” and it has a greater negative impact on our health than smoking, high blood pressure, and obesity. Connecting with other people can result in a longer lifespan, lower anxiety and depression and help in faster disease recovery.
3. Boost your confidence.
A lot of us are a lil socially awkward and that’s ok. We fumble over our words, we get embarrassed easily, and some of us are just genuinely terrified to talk to someone - especially someone we’ve never met. But that’s the beauty of talking with a stranger… practice. Practice starting a conversation, listening, engaging and effectively ending it. Practice with someone who, chances are, you will never see again. So, if you stumble a little it’s all good you never have to see them again!
4. The possibilities are ENDLESS!
There’s a possibility that you could make a genuine connection. It could be a friendship, a romantic relationship, a business connection so leave yourself open! Every stranger you pass over is a missed opportunity for real, genuine connection.
We’re all guilty of this one crime and if we’re not careful this minor offense can turn into a full on underground operation. Here’s how it starts…
*opens app (clock or instafuck)
*little green monster inside you wakes up… and it’s hungry
*You start feeding it…
“I wish I had that body.” “Why am I not an athletic?” “I’d love to be on that beach.” “I wish I was in that relationship.” And the next thing you know, you’ve been highjacked and you’re running a Ponzi scheme of comparison. If you’re not careful you’ll end up locked into it and locked up because of it. When I say this I mean, you’ll end up continuing to compare yourself and you’ll start hating yourself because you’re not what you think you should be.
It is normal to have moments of jealousy and envy but start checking yourself. When those thoughts start popping up remind yourself of two things: One, you’re a badass mfer who’s unique and has talents and abilities you don’t even know about yet. And two, You’re only witnessing a snapshot of reality. There is no one who’s “better” than you and you’re not “better” than anyone else. It really is a level playing field of a bunch of dope people and celebrating some else in no way diminishes you and your uniqueness.
We’ve all heard the sayings, “Trust the process,” and “It’s about the journey, not the destination.” What TF does that mean?! We’re all told to set and reach goals but there’s this middle part where we spend the majority of our time that offers a plethora of information and experiences. If we over look this part we miss everything. We miss out on important lessons, new connections, growth, opportunities we weren’t expecting, redirections we didn’t plan for and all of this leads us to our final destinations. If we only stress about getting to that end game we miss the tools that we pick up that we might need to reach the next goal. The process is what prepares us and pushes us to be ready for the end goal and it’s what sets us up for the next one.
Has anyone ever asked you “who are you?” We usually reply with things like student, son or daughter, friend, entrepreneur, activist, athlete, musician, etc. But then they say the annoying, “not what are you, WHO are you?” And we’re dumbfounded. Who we are is the most difficult question to answer. Which if you think about it, we spend 100% of our time with our selves, it shouldn’t be that complicated… but it is. Figuring out who we are is a lifelong journey and just when you think you’ve got it figured out, spoiler alert, something changes. We grow, we learn, we make mistakes, we repeat. It’s a revolving door of new information that we are constantly sifting through and that’s NORMAL. It’s ok to change, or feel confused, or not have all the answers. That’s part of life and growing. Rest assured that self discovery is a challenge. Learn to enjoy the process, you’re an explorer on the quest of a lifetime!
We all talk to ourselves. We have a constant inner dialogue that if left unchecked can run us into dangerous territory or over the finish line. If you really sit and have an honest moment with yourself what are you saying to you? Are you hyping yourself up or are you tearing yourself down? Do you look at yourself and tell that sexy thaanng that shit’s looking 🔥 or do you get hung up on the things you don’t like? If you’re trying to do anything, and I mean ANYTHING, you have to start with how you talk to yourself. You’ll never get your shit together if you keep telling yourself you’re a fuck up. You’ll never get in shape if you keep telling yourself you’re fat, and you’ll never have money if you keep saying you’re broke. The list goes on and on. That doesn’t mean we’re not self aware or ignoring areas that need improvement, it means that we treat ourselves with respect and allow ourselves to be human. When we speak so harshly to ourselves we stay on the hamster wheel, running as fast as we can with no real progress. Get off the wheel and start taking real steps. Step number one, repeat “I’m DOPE as fuck.” And believe it.
1. They won’t tell anyone you know.
And, just to be sure, maybe change a few details like names and dates to ensure anonymity.
2. They don’t have a pre-biased opinion about you.
They don't know you. So they don't know your history, your habits, your relationships, etc. So you can get a fresh opinion from them.
3. There is less pressure.
Sometime telling your friends or family things like our plans, our thoughts or what we feel in a specific moment can put an involuntary pressure on us. We may feel like we have to follow through or commit to something that we actually just need to talk through in the moment. Telling someone who doesn't know you maybe just the thing you need to work through a thought with out the follow up conversations.
4. You won’t stress about what they think.
You don't know this person and chances are you may never see them again, so you really don't care about what they think or feel about what you're telling them. When you remain in the same friend group or are always going to the same people to talk, we can often anticipate how they're going to think or feel about our situations or conversations and the advice they're going to give. Talking to a fresh pair of ears with our history, that stress of the "I know what's coming" is nonexistent.
5. You can say what you are really thinking and feeling.
You ever have conversation or tell a story and censor it to your audience? You know your mom is going to feel a specific way about what you're doing so you leave out a few details and maybe a few words and give half a story.. With a stranger you can tell the whole truth and nothing but the truth if that's what you want. You don't know them, so say what ya feel!
6. Talking about it freely could help you work through it.
We've all been there... "should I break off this relationship because he took the last of the coffee?" "should I quit this job to start my own thing?" "should I confront that a**hole at work?" ok maybe not allll of us BUT talking to a stranger might just be the conversation we need to work through it.
7. You could get great advice.
Because you don't know this person and they don't know you, the chances of them giving you honest, real advice are pretty good. Our friends and family are often trying to protect our feelings and, more often than not, they're just telling us what they think we want to hear not what we NEED to hear. A stranger doesn't care they'll just tell you what they think.
8. You’ll feel better getting it off your chest.
Sometimes we keep things so tight to us that we don't realize our shoulders are tense, our jaw clenched, and we forget to just take a breath. Get. it. out! Tell a stranger and then relax!
9. There are no strings attached.
Think about it like this, you just swiped right. There's no expectation but, of course there's a possibility... But generally it's just a chat, or maybe a date, and if you're both down, maybe a hook up but there are no strings attached. It's the same for talking with a stranger there's no before and no after just the moment and no one's expecting it to go further than that conversation.
10. You can walk away anytime.
If you don't like what you're hearing, you can exit the conversation at any time! "Thanks, it was nice meeting you. I have to go." and you're out! ✌️
11. They will usually listen with their undivided attention.
Often when we're talking to our inner circle, they're adding their opinion, their interrupting you to tell a different story, or their all together disengaged. If they don't know you, they'll usually give you their attention. They put their phone away. They listen and don't interrupt.
12. You could end up gaining a new friend who gets you.
You may actually make a connection! Talk to that stranger and see what happens!