“Be yourself”, “be different”. These two terms have been so commonly associated with one another that the line between them has blurred. It has come to a point where it seems as though being different is the only way to be special.
The idea that an individual has to be different to be himself is a blind and tiring pursuit. It is tiring because of how difficult it is to be 100% different from the rest of society when all of us are bind to the common ground of “human nature” no matter how hard we strive to be different. This is not saying that we are all or should be the same person.
It is just near impossible for everyone to be drastically different from one another. We do all have little differences, and that is more than okay. We should love and accept our differences, but we should not mistake being different as something we have to be or our whole identity: it shouldn’t feel like there’s a compulsory subscription to “being completely different” , and it should definitely not feel like being the same or wanting to be the same is a crime.When I was in Montessori, I remember even the most basic things that I liked were edited and changed by myself in fears of being “too average” or not special enough. This caused me to wear things I didn’t like, push away my hobbies, dramatize my real quirks and differences so much and became so transfixed on being someone “different” that I slowly lost myself and the person I really was. This, ironically, includes my true differences.
But as I grew older, it became tiring to have to insist upon being different. it no longer was just choosing a different crayon to use to colour with, but instead more serious issues like my stand on different social issues or the things I believed in. Often, I wanted to agree with the viewpoints of my friends and feel like I belonged to a group of people with common interests, but would hold myself back because I felt ashamed of wanting to fit in.
But gradually, I realised that although being different IS something that we should be proud of, it didn’t always have to apply or be extreme, especially because forcing differences is the opposite of the intended effect — it shouldn’t be something we fake or force because accepting the fact that we are different essentially just means accepting who we are and if we want to be the same, to be average, that’s perfectly fine. And as the Rainbow Fish, the only fish in the whole ocean with Shiny scales, the fish that everyone wanted to be, shared his scales left and right, he became more and more delighted. When the water around him filled with glimmering scales, he at last felt at home among the other fish.