Dare to Be Different and Break Free from Following the Crowd
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To dare to be different is to live your life your own way.
Following your heart rather than following the crowd gives you much more chance to find happiness and fulfillment, but it takes courage. Many people are afraid of being different, of not being accepted by those around them, and of standing out rather than blending in.
The truth of the matter is that we are all different. In the entire world, there will never be anyone else who is exactly like you. You are truly one of a kind, and this is the miracle of being human. Just by virtue of being alive, you are unique and special. Why then do so many of us spend our lives denying and hiding our differences, and trying to be like ‘everyone else.’
One reason is the belief that there is safety in numbers. Whatever you are doing in your life, if millions of other people are doing it too, that means it’s safe, right? Not necessarily.
What millions of people are doing could be right for them, but totally wrong for you. High pressure corporate jobs suit some people just fine, but give other people complete nervous breakdowns. Don’t choose your path based on numbers.
Following the crowd also eliminates the pressure of needing to think and choose. It is challenging to have to consider what you truly want in life. It means stopping and really looking into your mind and heart- something we often try to avoid. If you are constantly on the go, and running from one social event to another, it could be that you are afraid of what you will discover if you slow down and have the time to think and feel.
It is not just the challenge of soul-searching that can be scary either. The discoveries you make may also require you to summon your courage and make big changes. Change is difficult. Many of us try anything to avoid change, but it is an impossible quest.
Life is change. We cannot stop change, and fighting against it and trying to prevent our lives from changing only brings anxiety and frustration. Change is one of the most irresistible forces of nature.
Change can also be positive if we stop resisting it and go with the flow. Confucius said, “They must often change, who would be constant in happiness or wisdom.” In other words, avoiding change is not the best way to achieve true contentment. Trying to fight change is fighting a losing battle. That is definitely a recipe for frustration.
So, choosing to follow your own path means breaking away from the ‘safety’ of conforming. It involves daring to look deep into your heart, regardless of what you might discover. It means embracing change rather than fighting it, and having the courage to make the changes needed to live your dreams.
To dare to be different means being willing to stand out. This can be a frightening prospect. While there are certainly people that enjoy the limelight, a majority of people feel more comfortable to blend into the background, and not to be noticed too much. Many people would rather fit in than stand out, and do not dare to be different.
As well as the (sometimes unwelcome) attention that can result from being different, another challenge can come from dealing with the ‘tall poppy syndrome.’ This describes the critical reaction people who choose a different path can experience from others, when they are seen to be getting ‘out of line,’ ’beyond their station,’ or ‘too big for their boots.’ This attitude almost always stems from people feeling resentment, jealousy, or that they are being made to look inadequate in comparison to another person’s courage and achievements.
Even though we are doing nothing to justify these negative reactions we may experience from others, we can still feel that it is a big price to pay for daring to be different.
By becoming aware though, of the deep need to follow our hearts, and stop living by other people’s rules, we can also discover a determination to break free. This can help us to overcome our fears, and find the courage to dare to be different, and to embrace change and uncertainty.
I love C.S. Lewis’ words that describe that need to grow. ”It may be hard for an egg to turn into a bird: it would be a jolly sight harder for it to learn to fly while remaining an egg. We are like eggs at present. And you cannot go on indefinitely being just an ordinary, decent egg. We must be hatched or go bad.”
It is not easy to fulfill your destiny. It may involve a lot of discomfort, uncertainty, and challenge. But to avoid becoming trapped in your ‘shell’, and going ‘bad’ from frustration and suppressed desires, the only choice is to summon your courage and take a leap of faith. Choose to break free, and dare to be different!
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