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Issue 17 Out Now

Being Different: The Good and The Bad

Photo from Elegant Themes

Being different presents an interesting paradox in which you are both revered and reviled and in this article, we will be taking a closer look at this paradox and the human experience that comes with it.

Here is what it is like to be different, the good and the bad.

Bad: You are a target.

When you are different, you tend to stick out like a sore thumb making you an easy target. Because you seem to go against the group, others tend to take your deviance as a rejection of the group and its practices. In their mind, this rejection can make them feel inferior and like you believe you know better than them. Therefore, those that are different are punished for making them feel this way through hostility, shunning, ostracism, mocking, demonization, and bullying.

Good: Your potential is recognizable/not harmless.

Conversely, when you are different and experience intense punishment, that usually means others recognize you as somebody. You are perceived as a threat because they see your potential to challenge their accustomed system. Your potential is not harmless. Possibly revolutionary. The harder they attack, the more potential they see.

Bad: Making friends can be rough.

Being different often means rarely feeling accepted, let alone understood, a painfully lonely experience. Humans need connection, and often we are so desperate to have it that we disconnect from ourselves to gain social acceptance. We have all been there. But even then, when you find yourself surrounded by others, you are more lonely than ever because those connections are made based on who you pretended to be to fit in, not the real you. Either way, you do not feel like you belong and have difficulty finding your clan.

Good: Positions you for genuine connections.

The good news is, while making friends is difficult for odd ones, when you do while embracing who you are, they are based on real connections and tend to be longer-lasting. You can relate to each other and bring your uniqueness together to create dynamic, creative synergies-something especially missing from masked connections. While being different may not bring forth a high quantity of friends, the few you have tend to be high quality, a source of peace from society, and a breath of fresh air.

Bad: You experience intense doubt.

Because you are deviating from the popular path, you question yourself often, considering that everyone else can not be wrong if they are all going one way and you another. And even if your path feels right for you, that it would be easier to follow along with everyone else to avoid the punishment of society. It is also not uncommon to internalize the sentiments and beliefs of others towards deviants, causing you to resent those characteristics about yourself that make you unique. At times, as mentioned before, believing dimming your light or those things that make you different is your best chance of survival/acceptance.

Good: You are likely a trailblazer.

By daring to be brave and fierce, presenting your most authentic self to the world, you exhibit the same bravery present in history makers, world shakers, and trailblazers. You inspire others to be their authentic self in a world that punishes individuality and rewards conformity. You do what you believe is best for you, living life on your terms without letting the fear of what others think to rule your life. And even if they mock before they mimic, others admire you for it.

It can be intense being different and can feel like everyone is against you. But make no mistake, underneath the hostility and aggression, there is a layer of admiration for those that dare to be. History is full of individuals that went against the grain, enduring much suffering, even from their own, in pursuit of their dream to live on their terms. Without these individuals, there would be no change, progress, and advancements in our society at large. Being different is the future. And the sooner we learn to honor what makes us different, the sooner we can collectively direct all our lights towards a brighter one.

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