Do you feel like a weirdo in your professional field?
Do you sometimes wonder how you can be so different from “typical” representatives of your professional area? Congratulations: that means you have extra leverage in your career. You have at least three ways to use it, all three pretty good.
There are days when we wish we were the same as all our colleagues, sharing their views, or interests, or background. But instead, we feel like strangers, different from anybody else at our workplace.
The first thing to remember at such a moment is that feeling strange and different from others is a common thing, not something rare. Even if all your colleagues except you seem to have something in common, it is very likely that they differ from each other in something else, and that they also sometimes feel different and out of place.
You can actually benefit from being different. No matter whether you feel atypical because of a personal feature, temperament, family status, your age, cultural background, professional experience, or anything else, every single human characteristic can mean both an advantage and a disadvantage. To a large extent, it is up to you whether your “weird” characteristic will show more often as cool or as awkward.
So if you want to be yourself while presenting your “weird” characteristic as a strength, there are at least three things you can do.
The first option
Make it useful for your team.
Your characteristic, your experience, can be to your disadvantage in some situations and tasks, but a great advantage in other ones. The question is: in which situations and tasks is it on the useful side? Don´t wait until somebody finds the answer by chance. Find an opportunity to show it. It needs to be you who figures out how you could be useful for your team not despite but because of who you are. Decide how you can be useful through your unusual experience, contacts, knowledge or personal approach. Offer it to your colleagues, so that they can appreciate your added value.
The second option
Make it the unique selling point of your business.
If you are planning or already running a business, use your difference as your main advantage. Instead of pretending to be like the others, show the difference as something that distinguishes you from your competition – your niche.
The third option
Your third option is to leave the industry in which you feel like a stranger and make a career change into an industry that seems a better fit.
If you do this, you will carry your previous experience with you, and you might find yourself to be the only person in the whole team or company who has previously worked in that very different field. Thus you might feel a bit weird and like a stranger, and that is the point where you can remember our option number one and ace it all!
The basic rule:
First you need to see your (and other people´s) characteristics as advantages, only then can you convince the others about it.