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.