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Don’t Pigeon Hole Yourself

Pigeon hole

I think that it’s fair to say that the majority of us (myself included, of course) hold a certain perception of ourselves that we define ourselves by.

For example, you might see yourself as ‘the organised one’, ‘the forgetful one’, ‘the creative one’, ‘the funny one’, etc.

While this is all well and good, as it shows some degree of self knowledge, it can also be incredibly limiting and not only stunt potential creativity but also opportunities to explore ourselves in a fuller way.

We find security in this pigeon holing; we know who we are, our place, what we do, and how we do it – and that’s as far as we go. Being able to define ourselves in a nutshell makes us feel stable and safe.

The thing is, it’s also incredibly restrictive because at the same time we are turning our back on facets of our personality that could truly enrich our work and even our lives.

When was the last time you found yourself uttering something similar to one of the following:

“I can’t do that”

“I’m not like that”

“That just isn’t me”

The context could be anything but the effect is the same; stopping yourself from doing something that challenges the perception of yourself or to put it another way, ensuring we do not leave our comfort zone.

It’s an easy thing to do because we are pretty much conditioned to do this – in many ways it is a survival technique that shields us from anything that challenges who we think we are.

But what if we did challenge that perception and stepped out of the comfort zone?

Essentially we would be making ourselves vulnerable. We’d feel lost and scared because we’d be in uncharted territory. But pushing through this fear means discovering something new about ourselves.

It could be that the chap who is a total whizz at spreadsheets has a brilliant, but undeveloped, artistic streak. Or perhaps the shy and retiring girl actually has a wicked sense of humour that had been tightly locked away.

Our personalities are made up of many facets so why not explore them?

I’ll use myself as an example:

I was drawn to filmmaking through writing; I’ve always written stories so it felt like a natural progression to realise these narratives in visual form. But because I am more comfortable dealing with story, I’ve never explored purely visual concepts.

I’m actually prepping to pitch for a film job that needs to be visually driven, as opposed to narratively. But I almost bowed out before I started, telling myself that “this isn’t me, it’s not what I do”.

Fortunately, I caught myself saying this so could do something about it. I want to develop as a human being as much as I do a filmmaker, so I have been pushing myself out of my comfort zone in developing this concept.

I may very well be beaten to the job by folk with more experience in concepts like this or who have more visual flair, but as the hours that I’ve spent on this project have passed, it has become less about getting the job (although I’d love to get it) and more about exploring this new side of me.

It’s been really liberating and exciting working in a new way, even surprising, in that I’d always told myself that “this wasn’t me” and that “I’m not good at this” – when in fact, if I’d moved beyond limiting thoughts, I’d have discovered that I was capable of far more than I’d realised.

The danger is living up to these self-imposed labels that pigeon hole us as one thing or another, because that is all we will ever be.

We are more than what we think we are and are only constrained by how we perceive ourselves.

The good news is that we can control this perception – and when you do, you just might discover something unexpected and amazing.

About Amir:

“My name is Amir Bazrafshan. I am a filmmaker and currently Head of Production at indie distributors Crabtree Films and soon to be Director at my own business Apricot Creative Video.”

Twitter: @amir_hb