Dear Son: Don’t Forget to Stand Out

You may remember Jamie Collins—one of our top writers.  Today I'm pleased to feature one of her posts on The Estrin Report. I am excited to announce that Jamie is not only writing in the legal genre these days, but also recently launched a personal blog called: Just Being Jamie. So what is this new blog? It’s pretty much Jamie writing on a wide variety of topics, with no set rules, Just Being Jamie. She never hits the page lightly. One day she’ll make you laugh. The next day, she’ll make you weep. (She really does. You should give it a gander.) Better yet, subscribe to her new blog.  Everyone can use a smile.

The greatest fear in the world is of the opinions of others. The moment you are unafraid of the crowd, you are no longer a sheep. You become a lion. A great roar arises in your heart, the roar of freedom.”  ~ Osho

My Dear Son,

You will spend many, many years of your life trying to “fit in.” In fact, you’ll spend the majority of your waking pre-teen and teenage years trying to be like other people. The cool kids. Trying to say the right thing. Attempting to look the right way. Styling your hair just right, talking in lingo, and wearing the right brand of sneakers; trying to be like your peers in an effort to blend in with those around you. In essence, trying not to stand out. And that’s okay. You certainly aren’t the first person to do so. You stand before a long road of personal growth; one paved with a lot of fads you’ll choose to embrace over the years in the name of teenage uniformity. And that’s okay. Your dad and I did those same things, too. (Unfortunately, we do have the pictures to prove it.)

Not only will you spend the majority of your formative years trying to blend in, but your teachers, for the most part, will encourage it. They need every student to sit down in his or her chair, work quietly, and do what is asked of him or her (the way it is asked of him or her) in a uniform manner, so they can run their classrooms, teach you what you need to know, and adhere to educational standards. Many of your future employers will do the same thing. They, too, will ask you to perform work duties, tell you when to perform them, why, and how. They will need you to do your part as an employee to “fit in” to the company’s culture. In life, we all need to fit in to some extent. I don’t fault teachers for this. They have a lot on their educational plates. I don’t fault bosses for this. They have goals, deadlines, and general procedures for doing things.  Even as parents, we even have to fit in, at least to some extent. Your dad and I sometimes wear power suits in an effort to blend in with the professionals around us. As far as blending in goes, that’s what the world requires of you: conformity. At least for now. Maybe on most days.

But son, what you need to know is this: At some point in your life, you’ll need to stand out. To step in to your own light. At first, it may only be only an occasional glimmer of potential you may take notice of here or there. It will be with things you are either really good at, enjoy doing, or do really well. Maybe when you’re making a long throw on a football field, working on a class project you take the initiative to lead, or standing at a podium to give a speech to a room of listening peers. I’m not sure when it will happen for you, precisely. But there will come a time in your life when your talents—your gifts—the things you do best that make you unique, special, and most vibrantly, spectacularly, wonderfully “you” will require more of you.  A time when you must embrace them and put them on display for the world to see. A day when that innate gift you possess (or worked really, really hard to master) is something every person around you will bear witness to in some small way. A day when others will see you for who you are, a glimmer of what you can do, and should do a whole lot more of in the future.

The day will come when you will need to forget all of the blending in and stop trying to be like everyone else. When the thing most vital to the creation of your true self and your success will require you to rise up in your corner of the world in the most confident, radiant, authentic way possible. A day when you will need to step out of the shadows of commonplace where you may choose to dwell on most days…and into your own light. A time when you will show others what, exactly, that light is: The things in life you are passionate about; what it is you do well; and the thing you were born to do, my son. Because we each have our own unique light to shine in the world, and you’re the only one who has yours. Just you. It’s one of a kind. It’s special. It’s what makes you, you.

Maybe you’ll write a book one day. Perhaps, you’ll be an acclaimed quarterback. Maybe you’ll own a popular restaurant on the north side of town. You may solve mathematic equations, teach pupils (to blend in and stand out), lead a team, market a product launch, coach a team to victory, prepare financial reports, run a Fortune 500 company, or inspire a room of people with your words. But whatever it is, that special thing you do to make yourself stand out – embrace it. Acknowledge it. Own it. Allow it to burn brightly within you, even if you don’t show it to the world on most days. Remember that thing is your gift. And it’s your job to share that gift with others.

It’s okay to wear the latest K.D. sneakers. It’s okay to spike your hair up with gel. It’s okay to wear the latest trendy clothes, use those same slang words your friends use, play the games your friends like to play on the PS4, and act like your peers. It’s okay to blend in with others.

It’s also okay to stand out. In fact, you should.
Maybe not every day.

But on the day God puts you on a path to show your gift to the world, because you find yourself doing something you were created to do, do exceptionally well, or love doing—then do it all the way. Charge out of the gates of conformity. Forget blending in. Forget being like everyone else. Forget fading in to the background.

You’re too special for that. Your gift is too important. And you’re the only one who can share it.

Embrace your gifts.
Shine your own unique light into the world.
Light up the room by being you: exactly, perfectly, authentically you.

When that day of opportunity presents itself to you, give of yourself and contribute in such a way that only you can. You were born to stand out, my son. You were born to be remarkable.

When your moment comes, and there will be many of them in life—Step up. Stand tall. Be confident. Be proud. Take a deep breath, and shine like the sun.

Chere Estrin is the CEO of Estrin Legal Staffing and CEO of the Paralegal Knowledge Institute. She is an expert career coach at Legal Careers Rx. Chere holds the position of President & Co-Founding member of the Organization of Legal Professionals, a non-profit providing legal technology training for litigation support, attorneys and paralegals. She has written 10 books on the legal career and hundreds of articles. A former administrator for major law firms, she has held executive positions in a $5 billion corporation and major legal service providers and interviewed by the Los Angeles Times, Newsweek, ABA Journal and other publications. She has Sundays free from 3:00 am – 6:00am. Talk to Chere at