“Imitation is suicide”, said Ralph Waldo Emerson, plain and simple. Actually, we should be afraid to be the same as the others, not to be different. Difference makes us unique, unrepeatable and valuable while the normalization of thoughts, desires and behaviors implies that at some point along the way we have lost our freedom to decide and think on our own. It implies that at some point we throw in the towel, we stop pursuing our dreams and raise a white flag by pledging our authenticity.
Unfortunately, being different is not always perceived as something positive or valuable because in many cases it means staying out of the group. The mechanisms of group pressure are usually devastating if we do not have a bullet-proof self-esteem and a well-founded self-confidence. If this is not the case, the desire to belong to the group and the acceptance of the others can win the battle against the need to shine with our own light.
Many of the great writers, psychologists, philosophers and inventors had to face this dichotomy at some point in their lives. And came out winning and celebrating the value of the difference because they were aware that, if we do not follow that wake that makes us peculiar, we will be condemned to frustration and mediocrity.
Quotes about being different from people who dared to be
- “Whenever you find yourself on the side of the majority, it is time to pause and reflect” – Marc Twain
It is said that when two minds think the same, one of them is not thinking. Marc Twain warned us of this danger at the end of the 19th century, but the truth is that his quote about being different is still rabidly current. If we agree with the socially accepted currents of opinion, we’d better stop for a second to reflect, because we’re probably not thinking on our own but we’re letting ourselves be manipulated.
- “The person who follows the crowd will usually go no further than the crowd. The person who walks alone is likely to find himself in places no one has ever seen”- Albert Einstein
If we follow the trail of thought that others have marked, we will know exactly where to direct our steps. It is the safest way, with fewer frights, but it is not the way that will allow us to shine, discover, learn and know.
- “The opposite of courage in our society is not cowardice, it is conformity” – Rollo May
This existentialist psychologist warned us about the risks of conformity, understood as the degree to which we are willing to change our behavior, opinions and attitudes to fit within a group.
- “I think the reward for conformity is that everyone likes you except yourself” – Rita Mae Brown
This American writer and feminist activist knew very well what she was talking about. With this quote about being different, she reveals the greatest danger of trying to please everyone: to end up developing a “self” that we could even be ashamed of. Please ourselves is better than please everyone.
- “I know who you are and say what you feel, because those who bother do not matter and those who matter will not be bothered” – Fritz Perls
This humanistic psychologist has been one of those who defended with greater impetus the need to know ourselves and be authentic. Therefore, with this quote about being different, he encourages us to express our opinions and feelings, so that we can feel free in every moment of our lives. Some will not like it, but we must remember that we cannot please everyone.
- “Freedom means nothing, unless it means the freedom to be different” – Marty Rubin
There are two types of freedom: the freedom that society allows us to move within certain norms and the extraordinary liberty to express what we are and carry inside. Most people spend their entire lives moving within the limits of social freedom, without ever discovering the enormous liberty that implies being different.
- “To be yourself in a world that is constantly trying to make you something else is the greatest accomplishment” – Ralph Waldo Emerson
This transcendentalist philosopher understood how difficult it is to go against the current, but he also considered that it was the greatest achievement we can achieve in our life, especially considering that all the forces around us are pushing in the opposite direction.
- “The higher we soar the smaller we appear to those who cannot fly” – Friedrich Nietzsche
When we start flying, especially the first time, it is usually scary. However, as we gain in height and confidence, we also realize the limited universe of people who cannot or do not want to fly and how small and distant we appear to them.
- “Most people are other people. Their thoughts are someone else’s opinions, their lives a mimicry, their passions a quotation”- Oscar Wilde
The Irish writer was not half-hearted when it came to criticizing conformism. However, the truth is that this social game that encourages us to blend in with others is so subtle that it can steal our uniqueness almost without realizing it. The antidote also came out of his pen: “Be yourself; everyone else is already taken”
- “We must not allow other people’s limited perceptions to define us” – Virginia Satir
This family therapist was perfectly aware of the enormous influence that groups exert on our personality, especially those closest to us, that is why her quote about being different alerts us of the need to establish a psychological distance from these people to not allow their beliefs, stereotypes and expectations end up limiting us.
- “Never sacrifice one’s convictions to the opinions or wishes of others” – Ayn Rand
This philosopher believed that we have a mission in life, which is to reach our maximum potential and happiness. To achieve this, she thought that we should embark on a path of personal growth guided by our desire to improve, but at the same time assuming full responsibility for our decisions and actions.
- “If you’re always trying to be normal, you will never know how amazing you can be” – Maya Angelou
Writer and American civil rights activist, Maya Angelou did not give moral lessons, she acted. Therefore, her quote about being different acquires a greater meaning, being deeply inspiring. We must not forget that we are all unique and have precious gifts, that we can waste when we try to adapt to society and limit ourselves to meet the expectations that others have from us.
- “You are what you do, not what you say you’ll do” – Carl Gustav Jung
This psychoanalyst alerts us of a danger in which we can fall at any moment: the tendency to think that we are what we think. However, if those values and ideas are not put into practice, they are like wet cards. Therefore, being different is not enough, it is necessary that this authenticity has an exit.
- “He who is authentic assumes the responsibility to be what he is, and recognizes himself free to be what he is” – Jean Paul Sartre
This philosopher puts his finger into the wound, differentiating simple narcissism from authenticity. The authentic person is not only free, he is also mature enough to take responsibility for his actions.
- “If you’re not prepared to be wrong, you’ll never come up with anything original” – Ken Robinson
This quote about being different places the emphasis on an aspect that is often forgotten but very important: the ability to deal with mistakes and learn from them. Those who stay safely in their comfort zone, without risking anything, will not make mistakes but will not be able to discover all the things that they could be able to do. Therefore, preparing to be authentic is to prepare to deal with mistakes.