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The Subtle Art of Being Your Authentic Self

Oklahoma City Thunder superstar Russell Westbrook is one of the most unique and unapologetic players in the NBA today. The interestingly flamboyant fashion statements he makes. The way he candidly and honestly converses with reporters during post-game interviews. The expressive and explosive way he competes every single game. Russell Westbrook is clearly in a league, better yet, a world of his own.

In March 2017, Mountain Dew premiered a new commercial featuring Westbrook. In the commercial, Westbrook essentially runs through a laundry list of things that people tell him not to do. The commercial concludes with him about to perform a motorcycle stunt involving a ramp and a flaming basketball hoop, however, right before he takes off on the motorcycle, he takes a sip of Mountain Dew (of course) and declares, "Don't do they, do you."

This “do you” approach that Westbrook abides by has obviously worked out for him on the court. In the 2016-2017 NBA season, Westbrook became only the second player in NBA history to average a triple double (at least 10 points, 10 rebounds and 10 assists) for an entire season, he broke the long standing record for most triple doubles in a season, and he won the regular season Most Valuable Player award, all while leading his team to the playoffs. Not only that, but he appears to be living his best life off the court as well, with little regard for anything critics or spectators have to say about him.

Everyone who you encounter is not going to like you. Many are not going to be on board with the endeavors you pursue, the decisions you arrive at, or the moves that you make. Most are not going to celebrate you. They are not going to dap you up. They are not going to shout you out. Shoot, they probably won't even acknowledge that they see what you are doing and instead will critique you and talk about you behind your back. But you know what? Who. Really. Cares? Point blank: Someone else's opinion of you is quite frankly none of your business.

Criticism/opinionating has long been commonplace in society. However, the social media age we are currently living in has multiplied that to the millionth degree. Social media has basically given people their own permission to openly offer opinions and criticize others--most of whom they do not know personally--for things that have nothing to with them and regarding subjects that they do not have much knowledge about.

What is more damaging is that it has caused society to become preoccupied with being liked, being followed, getting stamps of approval, and fitting in. As a result, individuality, creativity, and personal growth have suffered because following fleeting trends and being, sounding, or looking like someone else are valued more than being the fullest expression of your own unique self.

Embrace the fact that your life, and what you do with it, is not about anyone else. It is about being who you truly are, making the most of the time you have been blessed with on this earth, and doing what God placed in your heart to do.

Too often, people miss their calling, bypass opportunities, or don't do the things they really want to do simply because of how they think they will be perceived or what others will say and think. They fear looking silly or getting the "I told you so" from spectators if things don't necessarily go the way they initially envisioned.

But when they are old and wrinkly and it's about time to head to that "Up-per Rooooom" (Eddie Murphy in the movie 'Life' voice), they're filled with regret because they know they wasted years of their lives limiting themselves by listening to the irrelevant opinions of others.

As an adult, in almost every endeavor that I pursued, people have been skeptical, have offered their advice, and have expressed to me their opinion about what they thought was best for me. How many times do you think I stopped doing what was placed in my heart to do, just because someone else "knows what's best" for me? You guessed it: zilch, zero.

Now trust and believe, I have I fallen flat on my face and failed miserably at times. But I would rather be who I am, do what was placed in my heart to do, take a leap of faith, express myself creatively, and fail terribly than to look back on my life, filled with sorrow and regret, talking about all the things I "shoulda, coulda, woulda" done if I could go back in time.

Is it important to heed some criticism and advice? Most definitely. Especially if it is genuine and comes from a good place from good people. None of us have all the answers. But you have to discern whether that criticism is constructive or fruitless. You also have to evaluate the source from which that criticism/advice is coming from. It doesn't benefit you to listen to someone who hasn't done much with their life or who cannot help you get to where you want to be.

You were put on this earth for a reason. You were blessed with certain abilities and have interests that are specific to you. You have something to offer that the world has never seen before. So when you attempt to fit into that small box that society has tried to cram you into, you are doing God, yourself, your family, and society a disservice. Don't deprive yourself of your highest and fullest life experience. God created you how you are for a reason.

It is okay, no, it is amazing to be your true self and to be unapologetic about it. No matter how quirky, how daring, how weird, how crazy, or how controversial you may come across to others. Just as long as you are remaining true to yourself.

As Frank Sinatra said in his 1969 song My Way (I'm unapologetic about my tastes in music, too), "Yes, there were times, I'm sure you knew / When I bit off more than I could chew / But through it all, when there was doubt / I ate it up and spit it out / I faced it all and I stood tall / And did it my way."

In a world full of carbon copies, be brave enough not to "do they," but rather to do you.

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