Why We Should Embrace Being Different

Welcome to Good Enough Creative, a podcast for creative people.

Welcome back! I’m your host, Marie Greene, and in today’s episode we’re talking about being different. You know, being unapologetically you.

There’s a Tiktok star named Mychal Threets (and I should preface this by saying that I’m not on Tiktok, but thankfully his reels also end up on Facebook, and that’s how I discovered him). He’s quirky and kind and his emphasis is on sharing his love for public libraries. He calls adults, Library Grown Ups and kids Library Kids, and he’s just a ray of cheerful, funky sunshine in a world that can sometimes feel overwhelmingly icky.

Becoming famous for your quirky, unabashed love of libraries is charmingly different. And I’m here for it.

We don’t need more influencers telling us how to be the same. It’s an unattainable goal. But I think I know why it’s tempting – because all of us, every single one, wants to belong. We want to know where our people are and that we have a place with them. Not belonging is the worst feeling.

I was listening to a book by Brene Brown the other day, where she talked about belonging – and how there was a point in her childhood when she felt that she no longer belonged to her family. She felt different.

And if we’re honest, I think most of us have had moments in life – or maybe more than just moments – when we’ve felt like we’re different. Like we don’t fit into the mold that everyone else around us seems to fit.

I have a sneaky suspicion that nobody fits a mold. We’re naturally different – and that’s what makes us interesting. Why do we pressure ourselves – and each other – to blend in, when we could offer so much more to the world by being who we are?

I know it’s one thing to say, HEY! Celebrate being unique! Hooray! Go you! And it’s something very different to actually do it and face criticism or be ostracized.

When we give ourselves permission to be ourselves, we give those around us permission, too. But when we DON’T – when we hold ourselves to impossible standards, when we don’t allow ourselves to be who we know that we are – we’re not as accepting when other people do give themselves that permission. How dare they just… get to be who they want to be? How dare they stand out and be different and just be COMPLETELY FINE WITH IT?!?

I have a confession. Sometimes when I see a person being unapologetically REAL and different or even a little silly, I almost feel a little bit envious. Like, wow – that is so brave. I secretly want to jump on the back of my shopping cart when I leave the store and let it roll me to my car, but do I do it? No, because I’m worried that I’ll look ridiculous. But when I see someone else do it, I am secretly for cheering for them. But also, a little envious. Because as adorable as I think I think it is to see someone else do it, I don’t feel comfortable letting myself.

But why? Sure, there’s the inevitable concern for things like hitting a divot in the parking lot and breaking my ankle. I also don’t want to look ridiculous or be seen by someone I know. And if anyone is hearing this episode who knows me really well, I think they would be shocked to hear me even talk about this, because there’s really nothing childlike about my personality, not even when I WAS a child. My mother says I was born an adult. And yet, the urge to sail through the parking lot on my grocery cart is real.

Here are 5 Reasons to Embrace Being Different

  1. I said this already, but it deserves to be said again – when we can accept and even celebrate our own differences, we give others around us permission to do the same. When I meet someone who is brave and unique and not afraid to show it, I feel empowered. Being yourself and being different is a gift, and the more of us who pave the way for it, the easier it will be for those who come after us. We can’t change society overnight, but we can start where we are.
  2. Creativity thrives in fertile soil, and I’m convinced that the more we lean into what makes us unique, the more fertile that soil becomes. It’s not going to happen overnight – and in fact, I suspect this is a lifelong journey (it sure is one for me), but I challenge you to start now to free yourself from the pressure to do or be something you’re not. The unique gifts you have to offer are the ones that only you can share – and I believe that’s what you’re here for, to show up as the beautifully different and unique human that you are – and that’s worth celebrating, not hiding.
  3. When you feel like you have to conform to fit in, there will always be a sense that maybe – just maybe – if these people really knew you, they wouldn’t like you. I completely understand this fear, because I feel it, too. I don’t know for sure where I belong, either. But I do know what it’s like to try really hard to fit, and to worry that everyone will realize, hey wait – what’s she doing here? She doesn’t belong here. But here’s the secret: I think we have all felt this to some degree, at least once. And many of us feel it often. And it’s an awful feeling. When you lead with your real self, it’s easier for your people to recognize and find you. And I think the real secret is we’re all much more alike than we realize. The more I show up as myself in my business and in my community, the more comfortable I feel being myself, and I think the more comfortable others feel around me. Maybe you’re already doing an excellent at this, and if you are – I am cheering for you. Good job! But if you feel like maybe you’re still holding back, like maybe you’re not sure if the REAL YOU would be enough, I challenge you to take a few steps in that direction and see what happens.
  4. Being different is your superpower. If Library Super Hero Mychal Threet was playing small and trying to be like everyone else, how would we have had the chance to meet him? He’s over here changing lives with library cards because he’s willing and brave enough to show up as himself, in all of his goofy and fabulous glory. Being weird is what makes him wonderful. And it’s what makes other people take notice. Sure, there are some people who are really cruel when they see someone show up as their self when “that self” is different than the norm. My hope is that there will be more voices like ours who are grateful and that we can drown out those voices that are not. There’s another Tiktok star (again, that I discovered on Facebook) named Elyse Meyers and she grew to fame because she told stories about dating mishaps and general life hiccups with unapologetic, adorably imperfect realness. I discovered her through a video about a date that involved 100 crunchy tacos from Taco Bell, and I adored her immediately. She doesn’t use fancy filters or worry about her hair being perfect. She shows up in all of her realness, being relatable and charming and wholesome and imperfect. And it’s that imperfection – to show up bravely as herself – that has lead her to success. I’m sure it’s not easy to show up to an audience of millions the way that she does – I mean, I can’t even jump on the back of my shopping cart without feeling like a complete idiot. But her showing up and doing her thing, helps me feel a little braver, too. When we’re willing to be real, we step into our power and into what makes us amazing. If you’ve never heard Sarah Bareillies song Brave, go listen to it (and watch the music video) as soon as you finish this episode. It’ll help you feel brave, too. I’ve linked it in the show notes.
  5. And last, but not least, being different will guide you to your purpose. With so much noise coming from the world around us, it can be hard to hear your very own call toward something more. And what I’ve learned by working on embracing my own weirdness is that the more I own it, the more I recognize myself. And the more clearly I can see my own creative path. We are all different, and I’m glad we are – we need more brave people who are okay being the unique and wonderful individuals that they are.

Celebrate what makes you different – and see where it leads you.

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Until next time my friend, you’ve got this.

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