“Conformity is the jailer of freedom and the enemy of growth” – John F. Kennedy
So, I think JFK’s famous words are a great reminder that being different can be amazing and help us grow. While I’ve pretty much always been the “odd” one (and proud of it!), I know that non-conformity can sometimes be scary. Since I’ve been a bit under the weather all weekend, today’s post is a quick glimpse into my thoughts on conformity and being different!
Why We Want To Belong
So, what makes us want to be the norm? Why is normal such a common objective? Well, in an interesting Forbes article on 3 Things Humans Crave , the authors talk about safety, belonging and mattering as essential needs. Actually, it makes sense that we would want to belong to a social group, feel safe and accepted, and feel that we matter and make a contribution in this world.
However, I think we can matter without conforming. In fact, sometimes those who make a great contribution are ones who are the most different because they stand out. Rather than conform to the norm, they embrace their differences and individual strengths and make them work in their favour.
Conformity vs. Individual Identity
Actually, I think the reason I was always okay with being different (and proud of it!) is mostly thanks to literature. I always found that young adult novels had beautiful heroes and heroines who were different, faced challenges, and overcame them despite being difference. In fact, in times they overcame their challenges because they were different.
Some of my favourite (classic) books as a kid were the ones I’ve listed below. By the way, I still teach these books to young adults I tutor and they love them. That’s why I call them classics! You can check them all out on Amazon: Tiger Eyes , Are You There God? It’s Me, Margaret. The Guest of War Trilogy, The Outsiders and The True Confessions of Charlotte Doyle to name just a handful.
Looking for novel study guides? They are coming soon! In addition to my upcoming course on how to start and run a profitable tutoring business (check out the FREE 7 Day Email course here), I’ll be opening up a Teachers Pay Teachers (TpT) store soon with novel study guides. Actually, they’ll be ready for you to print and use in the classroom or in tutoring sessions this fall!
4 Ways To Embrace Your Differences
Well, you ask, how am I supposed to embrace my differences? To discover what makes me different and to love being that way?
1. Go Back To Your Childhood Dreams – First of all, what did you love to do as a child? Do you still have that passion, and if so, do you follow it? For me, that’s writing. I always wanted to be a novelist (and one day, I will write a novel). Actually, contemplating this idea today has reminded me that I need to dedicate the time to get back into fiction writing.
2. Make A List of What Makes You Unique (& Then Focus on It) – This one is as easy as it sounds. Sit down. Brainstorm. Focus. What makes you different and how can you leverage that strength?
3. Approach A Problem Differently To Your Peers or Colleagues – Don’t be afraid to speak up if you come up with a solution or idea that’s different to your peers or colleagues. Guess what? It may be the best idea they’ve heard of yet. Also, it gives you a voice, which I believe is so important to remaining an individual.
4. Try Something New & See How You Do – Well, when was the last time you tried something completely new? Maybe there’s a part of your individuality you don’t know about. For example, when I started taking painting classes (which I usually take once a year, just for fun), I would never have imagined that I could create pieces I did. Also, I would have never thought that I would find mixing and using colours relaxing!
So, what makes you unique? When is the last time you did something non-conformist, and what was people’s reaction? I’d love to hear from you in the comments below! I read and respond to every comment, and I’d love to hear what you have to say 🙂
Have a lovely and productive Monday!
P.S. The photo for today’s post (and poster!) is one of my favourites from years ago – taken in Venice, Italy in 2004.
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