David Strittmatter

Don’t try to impress but express yourself the best you can

You are born to express not to impress

Dear Friend,

Hope you are having such a great time as I am currently having. Right now, I am unbelievably grateful to be alive. It is such an awesome experience here in the USA. I like it a lot! 

I finally arrived in San Diego where I will stay for the next couple of months and it’s just crazy how many impressions I’ve been able to gain from this opportunity so far. On the one side, there are so many different people (the other exchange students) I am able to get to know because they are really open, friendly and cool personalities, on the other side, getting to know the American college culture is just insane. It is hard to compare American and German colleges. Eventually, I would say they are just different. In San Diego at the state university it feels much more like an experience or adventure compared to Germany. In my home country there is a stronger emphasis on academics and studying. In contrast to where I am currently enrolled, they focus much more on extracurricular activities such as sports and student clubs. Here it feels like that you in some way have to be part of something, whether it is being part of a sport club, a voluntary organisation, a college fraternity/sorority… Moreover, sport has a completely different status here. You either play for a college club or you cheer for them. It feels like there is no way around this. 

These are my impressions so far, but now enough talk about the USA. Let us dive into my learnings of the last week. 

Don’t try to impress but express yourself the best you can

You all know this advice regarding how to behave when getting to know new people: “Just be yourself”. But what does this even mean? How can you be yourself, be authentic if you do not even know who you are?

I think this advice is at least useless if not even harmful. No matter in which situation (meeting new friends, getting to know new colleagues, dating a man/woman…) you should not be just “yourself”, you goal should be to express your best self. You should not be “just yourself”. The key is to show people who you truly are and to make sure they really get to know you genuinely. If you are just yourself, you may not look the way you really are. It is your job and your responsibility that people can get to know your (best) self. And I am strongly convinced that it is not sufficient to just “be yourself” as it is often recommended. 

When I get to know new people – as I have done a lot in the last couple of days – I strive (as always) to be 100% honest, show vulnerability since nobody is perfect, to open myself up and tell them about things that most of you would not entrust your closer colleagues, not to try to impress, but express myself the best I can and be completely frank.

Unfortunately, this is easier said than to be done. It depends on your personality and inherent character how difficult it is to express you genuinely and on how much you know yourself as well as you good you can communicate with people so that you can bring over what you really are. This might take its time and effort, but I am really sure that it will be worth it.

Whenever I was able to express how I am really are (with all the bad habits and weaknesses I have), I have always been rewarded by getting compliments or getting to know someone who is on the same page. Give it a try, express who you truly are and make sure that others can get to know your genuine self. 

That was my weekly reflection already again. Next week there will surely be a longer episode. Due to the travelling and all the impressions I experience it is hard to reflect at the moment. However, I will dedicate more time to this next weekend and I will write it down for you.

Until then have a great week and see you soon!

All the best to you and yours,


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