Being Different is Being Yourself

By Tatiana Lavrenchuk. Tatiana, 34, works in the advertising industry and writes for pleasure. She lives in Milan, Italy. Please read her article and leave your thoughts and comments below.

I was born in Ukraine and was an ordinary child like the others. I graduated from the High School, then received my Bachelor’s degree and married at twenty-three years of age. When I was in my twenties, all my friends were already married and some even had children. Previously, it was quite normal in the Ukraine to be married young. Moreover, if you don’t get married early on, people think that there is something wrong with you. So, I just wanted to be normal like the others.

I guess every country expects people to live according to some unwritten rules. These rules are called a country’s “culture” or “mentality”. Unfortunately, my marriage ended three years after that. It was a traumatic moment for me that made me think a lot about what I was doing wrong in my life. I realized that my fear of being called “different” transformed into the belief that I was marrying the right person. I had lost myself, I had lost my true identity. “That’s crazy! I am crazy!” I thought, “I have ruined my own life”.

Unfortunately, it’s not that easy to get free of cultural beliefs; these unwritten rules are taught to us since we are newborn babies. Our parents, our boyfriend or girlfriend, our boss and the society as a whole just expect us to behave in a preset way, without leaving the slightest possibility of acting differently. We are not free from the first moment our life begins. We cannot be ourselves and we cannot choose. Everything that is different from these unwritten rules is generally considered wrong.

Well, I think everything that is different is not necessarily wrong. Making all people different is one of the most genius things that God could have done. Imagine how sad the world would be if it wasn’t like that. Unfortunately, we do not say that to our children. Instead, we say to them “You should be normal, like the others”. However, that is not our fault. Our parents have already told us the same before and that is already deep inside our mind.

People that behave in the same way are easier to control, to manage and manipulate. The government and the society does not want rebels that do not respect the rules. If they have rebels then they usually have two options: learn the rules of the rebels and accept them or just say that they are different, wrong and go against them. The second is much easier. That’s why minorities in some countries have a really hard time, why there are religious wars and why, in the bus full of black people in Africa, a single white man might be stared at.

“Different is wrong”, that is what the TV says and the newspapers talk about. This is what society believes in. Every day you go out on the street where you’ll hear it said again and again until you start believing in it too. You cannot escape.

And imagine that you are a newborn child, a baby with a fresh mind and no influence of any kind, free to choose, what would you choose? Well, I think you will just choose what makes a better you. You will just be yourself. That is what I say to my daughter every day “Don’t be afraid of being different, you should always be yourself. Respect a different way of thinking, being different is one of the best things that we can be as humans.” And I hope you will teach your children that too.

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