Here is the never-ending paradox of our society:
Trying to not be like everyone else in a world that loves conformity and sameness. It is the struggle we all face when a new child is born…every girl is enrolled in a dance class by the time she is two years old and every young man must love baseball, football, or some other sport.
Because every girl wants to dance and every boy wants to strap on a helmet.
Not in today’s world.
You know it and I know it.
If you think this dilemma only kicks in when you are older, you’re wrong. Go into the birthday party section of any large retailer and you see the same thing — trucks, police officers, and superheroes for boys and princesses and pretty things for girls.
From our first birthdays, we are corralled into being like everyone else. Liking the same things, doing the same things, believing the same things. Even education is done at the same pace without taking into consideration that some kids need to move slower or faster, depending on their needs.
I am not talking about breaking rules. That is completely different.
I am talking about allowing our differences to be seen, heard, and shared with the world. Don’t get me wrong…we have made some great strides with acceptance towards differences, but there are some people who are afraid to break away from the crowd — the same crowd they were just told to join, even though they were never given a good explanation about why it mattered.
We are not like everyone else.
Let me tell you why…
Although I do not usually include pictures of my family, here is a picture taken this fall of my three sons. Right off, you can tell they don’t look-alike. (Some will disagree with me on this point.) You might guess that the oldest is the one wearing the black shirt (you’d be wrong) and you also might guess that they all have golf in common (I gave you that one).
The truth is that all three of them came into this world with different things going on, so I knew right away that they would be different. Okay, maybe having a bald baby was something I didn’t expect with the last ones when the other two had full heads of dark brown hair.
My husband and I have always encouraged their trying new things (to find out what they do and do not like) and supported their decisions to not do something that the other two might enjoy. To be honest, one plays a mean rock guitar, one is such a great golfer that he beats his dad regularly, and another loves drama.
Can you guess which one is which?
So why share my sons with you? To make a point…that you cannot tell who will love what just by looking at them. We have to let them find out for themselves and support them with those choices.
We promote individuality and uniqueness then create ways to stifle and discriminate against the same thing we are trying to promote. Maybe to be able to say, “We encourage differences, but only if it fits into our little mold.”
WHAT? Are you kidding me?
If we really want to make the world better, using everything it has to offer, we must invite (not just welcome) the rare and exclusive to play a bigger role:
1. Don’t take “NO” for an answer. It is easy to just accept that as the “final” answer. I hear, “Not right now” when someone tells me “no” because I know things will always change. I am a question-asker by nature and I remember once in a job when I asked a question bout a process and my boss told me, “No one has ever asked that question before.” Challenging the way things have always been done doesn’t mean it’s wrong — it just means it could be better. Keep asking questions.
2. Listen to your heart. There are lots of lies out there — in your head, what others tell you, in the newspapers, etc. But your heart will never lie to you. Don’t change what you value, what you treasure, or what matters because it doesn’t match up with what is in everyone else’s heart. Maybe they haven’t learned how to step away from the mass of people or are afraid to speak up. Show them how by going against the grain, by not accepting the status quo, by raising awareness. Every great revolution begins with a single heart taking action.
3. Never apologize. Do not retract your true feelings for a subject or regarding an issue because it does not confirm with the majority. Do not pardon your opinion because no one sides with you. A true sense of character is always seen in the willingness to stand alone with one’s convictions. You are entitled to your own beliefs and any time you shelter them from harm’s way, you show others that you have some doubt and fear a possible backlash. Stand firm.
4. Be a trailblazer. Everyone is the first at something. Why not you? Be excited about being different, about the unusual found within, about not being like everyone else. People are going to talk anyway — give them something phenomenal to talk about! Make it worth it! Put your own mark on this world and change it so that no matter what happens, you will have left a legacy that is never forgotten. If you put a snow tiger in a pen with other orange-colored tigers, which one do you notice first?
We can break away from the molds society wants us to be in by just being ourselves. Nothing more, nothing less. It takes more effort to fight against who we really are than it does to allow ourselves to molded into something we were never meant to fit into anyway.