Being different isn't a bad thing. It means you're brave enough to be yourself. Unknown
When I was being bullied, all I wanted was to fit in. It was important to me that I looked and acted like everyone else. I thought that if I did then I wouldn't be bullied. It didn't quite work out that way, though.
See, the problem was that I couldn't be like them. I was different but that wasn't a bad thing. No matter how badly I wanted to be like them, it just wasn't in me to gossip or bully others. I could dress like them because it was a private school that used uniforms, but that's not the point.
I started out at a disadvantage. I was the outsider because everyone else had already been in school together. It would be like joining a sports team toward the end of a season where everyone has already bonded and made it that far and now here you come along. It can be a difficult environment for anyone, never mind when the ones you are joining are not very welcoming.
When you stand out in some way you will become a target, but I've learned that you shouldn't worry about that. Let me tell you why.
Society Has It Wrong
We're told as children that we can be anyone we want to be when we grow up. Think about it, how many times did you get asked what you wanted to be? And, of course, every time you were asked you probably had a different answer. I had my fair share of them. I was excited for all of the possibilities.
But this isn't limited to what we end up doing when we "grow up." It's also about the person we become on the inside. If we can become anyone we desire then we should be able to do that anyway we desire, right? Apparently not.
When we ask a child what he or she wants to be when they grow up it should come with the disclaimer that it has to be within certain socially acceptable parameters, and if you choose to go outside of those parameters you will be judged.
I don't get it. One of the greatest abilities we have as human beings is to be unique. Not one of us is exactly the same as someone else, yet instead of embracing this, we seemingly go out of our way to overcome this in order to fit in.
What I do get is that it can be scary to be different. I didn't like standing out when I was younger. It was downright terrifying. I was ready to gladly sacrifice my uniqueness to avoid judgment. Except that wasn't the answer. Yes, it would've made life easier for me, but when you sacrifice your uniqueness you sacrifice who you are.
You are a genius and the world needs your contribution. Angela Maiers
Have you heard that one before? It's important because if you hold back your genius, you are doing the world a disservice. But you can't contribute your genius if you try to fit it into some social parameter. Those who succeed greatly in this world know this. Think of anyone who you admire that is changing the world, and ask yourself if they fit into some mold.
Now, I'm not trying to say that there's anything wrong with wanting to live a "safe" life. It's your life to live. All I'm trying to say is that we shouldn't be holding anyone back and making them think that they have to live their life like everyone else.
Most people are fine with living a safe life, but if you want something more then you shouldn't be afraid to go after it and you shouldn't be judged for it when you do.
There comes a point where we go from being a kid who has unlimited dreams to becoming an adult who doesn't dream anymore. I'm not sure when it happens but it does. Then it's as if everyone goes into this same predetermined mold that discourages dreaming and judges those who dare to do it anyway.
How I Realized Trying To Fit In Wasn't Worth It
When you're the only sane person, you look like the only insane person. Criss Jami
After struggling to fit in for so long, I got frustrated and decided to rebel. It was a gradual rebellion. I just started doing my own thing and marching to the beat of my own drum, so to speak.
I used to really struggle with telling people about things I liked. I was afraid that I would be judged if I didn't like the same things as them. This was particularly true when talking about music. I've always loved music, but I was afraid of talking about it with others. Instead of saying which artists I enjoyed I would just say that I liked all types of music. I tried to go with safe answers. I would do this with everything. I was afraid to say where I wanted to go to eat or which movies or television shows I wanted to watch.
I struggle with being indecisive now as a result of being that way. Since I'm aware of it I do my best to work through it, though. I'm also not as afraid to say what I like and stand up for what I believe in. Whether it's about something trivial like what show you watch or something more important like your views on a controversial issue, these are the things that make you unique and that deserve respect.
I'll share with you one of my favorite movies - Dead Poets Society. It takes place at a boy's prep school where conformity is the name of the game. I appreciate this movie because it makes use of a teacher who emphasizes the importance of being yourself and going against the status quo. The film also depicts a tragic consequence for someone who strives to be different but doesn't get the support he seeks from his parents.
Speaking of schools, it was going to college that really opened my eyes to the endless possibilities for my life. As a result of this, I made choices that have led to the life I enjoy today. One of those choices was a solo trip to Europe that I will be writing about in the next post.
I have to credit going to college for much of the way my life has turned out, which is ironic because it was school that was responsible for how bad my life was before then. Anyway, going to college allowed me to meet people who had a much broader view of the world than the one I had and they made it feel like the norm to go against the status quo. Today I try to continue to surround myself with people like this and many of these people I have met online.
An important thing to remember is that you can always find someone who supports your way of viewing the world and what you want to do. If you can't find that in your friends and family then go online. We have the ability to connect with anyone in the world today. Use it to your advantage.
A common theme throughout this post has been school. It's what broke me but it's also what made me. If you were bullied as a child then my guess is that it happened at school too. Now you have to find something that can help make you. Something that can help you appreciate and embrace your uniqueness, instead of feeling like you have to hide it.
Whatever you do, don't let society hold you back. If you know that you are meant for something more, then go after it. We only get one shot at life, and it's yours to make the most of. It might be scary to put yourself out there sometimes, but it will be even worse to wonder what could have been if you had.
Think back to when you were a child before the world tried to put you into some mold, and answer the question of who you want to be when you grow up. Dare to be different by being you. I wonder that even though we ask children what they want to be when they grow up, maybe we don't make it clear that they need to respect what and who others want to be as well. Maybe if we did there would be less bullies.
I want to leave you with this: You can't be great by being normal.
Please leave a comment and let me know if you have any stories or questions.
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