It’s tough being different. This is made painfully obvious when you are young and there are such pressures to conform to the prevailing ambitions and interests around you. If you don’t conform to these popular ambitions and interests there may yet be hope for you – maybe there is a group of others you can belong to. Worst of all, what do you do when, as far as you know, you are the only person with these strange ambitions or interests?
Thankfully, despite its many faults, the internet is an incredible tool to connect people with divergent views. From helping citizens overthrow oppressive governments, to facilitating the proliferation of cat videos, no longer are you confined to the limits in your immediate vicinity!
As I read The Art of Nonconformity while trying to find a way out of the maze of unhappiness I had worked so hard to construct, I was floored by the abundance of people I read about, the author included, pursuing life on their own terms with completely different views on life than I was accustomed to. I had never met people like this in real life, but I instantly identified with them despite our different interests. What connected us was our ambition and the feeling like we’re an island in the middle of a vast ocean. No longer is that ocean vast. Fiber optic cables connect us!
It may be hard to realize while you’re in the midst of things, but not being yourself is exhausting! So much energy is wasted on conforming that you barely have any energy left over to break free from the chains of conformity holding you down. Each day takes you further away from where you want to be, and depletes your energy reserves.
If you are stuck, here are some tips that I used in transitioning from my unhappy life to living out my dream life.
- Make Google Your Friend – Search and find people with similar interests or views as you. They are out there and they may run a blog, tumbler, etc.
- Meetup.com – If you aren’t content to meet people from afar, MeetUp.com is full of opportunities to meet up with people of numerous interests in cities across the globe. If you are interested in something and there is no group, start one!
- Writing – There was something powerful to putting my thoughts down on paper and seeing them in 2-D that helped me translate my passions and interests into a 3-D adventure.
- Reading – I mentioned The Art of Nonconformity above, but I read many books and articles once I became committed to changing my life and living a life based on my passions.
- Observing – If you aren’t ready to dedicate your life to living out your passions and interests yet, there may be ways to observe others doing exactly that. For example, if you love theater then you can watch a show – or even better, volunteer at a local theater.
- Meditating – Sometimes we are our own worst enemy. That little voice inside us can let us know when we aren’t being faithful to the desires and interests within, but it can also be the red devil on your shoulder giving you infinite reasons why you shouldn’t take the plunge into a happier life based on your passions. By learning how to clear your thoughts and get in touch with the inner you, you can help quiet down that red devil on your shoulder and his negativity.
- Telling others – This can be the most powerful tip, yet it can be the most damaging as well. Reach out to those you care about, those you love. Tell them what you are thinking and planning. They may have invaluable insight and abundant encouragement to propel you forward. They may also be a source of negativity and admonishment as they fail to understand where you are coming from or fear losing you as a friend as you change your life. Be strong and realize that many people won’t be able to see things from your perspective and are only trying to help even if they end up hurting you.
- Don’t compare yourself to others – You already realized that you are different from those around you. The sooner you can stop comparing yourself to others, the sooner you’ll embrace your inner-awesomeness and be the person you’re meant to be. Remember, different is awesome!
- Enjoy the journey – It may take several iterations of dreaming and “failure” before you achieve what you want. Think of yourself as an entrepreneur, but instead of building a business you are building yourself! When you reach an impasse or feel frustrated, realize that you are on the journey of a lifetime and make sure you use those opportunities to turn around and see how far you’ve already come. Smell the roses.
For all the successful people out there you admire for taking the path less traveled when those two proverbial roads diverged in the woods, there came a point where they consciously decided to diverge from the norm. They saw the value in their differences and embraced them rather than hiding them. You can do the same. You can change yourself, your life, and maybe even the world!