The difference you can make

Being different is the difference that makes you stand out.

See, many of us hate being different. It makes us feel alone, ostracized, alienated. I know.

I remember being one of the few Asians in my elementary school class. And, yes, people made fun of me for being different. It hurt. I cried. But later, I accepted my difference, that I wasn’t like everyone else.

And that did something to me. It woke me. It gave me the freedom to love myself. It allowed me to see things differently and walk a unique path.

Now, when I say “different,” I don’t mean being immoral or hurting others, or anything like that. It’s about being unlike others in personality or ethnicity or interests or looks or whatever. Being different isn’t bad. It’s often the best thing that can happen to us.

And anyone can be different. It’s a choice. If you hang out with only people who look, think, talk like you, that’s ok, but try to branch out and befriend others who aren’t like you. Just that feeling of being around someone who’s not like you will make you feel different. And that’s good.

If you’ve always felt different, you’re not alone. Many around you have the same feeling and struggle. But, know this, being different and accepting yourself is powerful.

For example, the most innovative research labs aren’t the ones with scientists from the same country or have large demographic, cultural, and occupational overlap. No, the labs that make real breakthroughs often have people from various backgrounds, ethnicities, and experiences working together. They are the ones who save lives, change the world, do great things. Their differences help them see the world differently and create something new.

You see, sameness doesn’t achieve greatness. No, those who want the status quo stay close to others like themselves.

So don’t conform. Don’t try to surround yourself with others like you, no. Engage those who disagree with you, eat other cuisines, speak another language, study a subject outside of your expertise. A world without diversity doesn’t change the world. It can’t.

Uniformity isn’t transformational. Only diversity can do that. And diversity starts with each person accepting that they are different and moving towards others who are unlike them.

So don’t fear or dislike your difference or others for being different from you. That’s what sets you apart. It’s the fodder for the greatness that you can experience and create.

Instead, be different. Be yourself. Be true. Don’t be afraid to stand out. Instead, shine.

And, who knows, you might be the difference between the status quo and changing the world.

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