'You've got to be strong to be different...'

posted on: Thursday, 21 February 2013

I've written before about our family sayings; like 'you can't fight in your pyjamas', another of which is 'you've got to be strong to be different'. This comes from a favourite children's book about a lion which we read endlessly to both of our children, when they were little. My husband can recite the entire book by heart. The moral of it is a consistent theme in our house. I want my children to embrace different. Don't be like everyone else. Don't do what everyone else does. Be different. But it does take strength and no matter how many times we say the mantra - it's become a comedy explanation whenever anyone in the family does anything quirky - it is hard to do for real.

via pretty stuff
Especially at the moment, when conformity and blending-in seems important as we charter the territory of new schools and new friendships. You've got to be strong to be different.

I was brought up with a similar guide; my Mum went to great lengths to instill in me the idea that I didn't have to conform and in that, gave me such an important gift. I learnt to have my own opinion early on and those of my friends who have got to know me very well (as it takes a long time to get to know me for proper) will often comment I have little quirks and individualities that are different.

In an evening email exchange with my friend Emma last night, we were discussing the the impression that we made on others and how disconcerting it can be when meeting new people. Even now, as a grown up woman with my own family, profession, small business, a full repertoire of nutritious recipes, a charity-giving, tax-paying adult; I can still be floored with self-doubt.

This self doubt is often spurred by the recognition that I am not the same as everyone else. I think differently, I feel differently, I even dress differently.

In the corporate world there are a gazillion methods to categorise and characterise your personality type in an effort to glean efficiencies (such a corporate word!) in how you deal with others; clients, colleagues, bosses and so on. I know from that this I have a professional personality that is actually at odds with my real personality. But I have learnt to adapt and I have taken on traits that are not natural to me, but which I can use when they are needed. Over the years I did wonder whether I became so adept at taking on these traits that I lost sight...of me.

Part of the journey has been to get back to what I am all about, and do it now unapologetically. But I do hang on to the fact that it's OK to be different...isn't it? :-)


  1. I love the Coco Chanel quote. I didn't branch too far from the norm, but I was always the one in my group of friends to do/wear/like something different. I stood out in a sea of the same. It certainly makes me more memorable. :)

  2. Absolutely. Be yourself, because nobody else can be you.

  3. So true Lou! I have always instilled in my young grown up children that they must be strong and dare to be different if that is what is leading them in a certain direction. They have all taken this on board and had the courage to go in directions that none of their piers have......and they are proving to be happy and fulfilled and dare I say.....succesful in what they are passionate about!

    Coco Chanel was right.......to be irreplaceable we must dare to be different!

    Great post,

    Sophia x

  4. I love this Lou ~ we all have to be our own person ~ unique ~ different ~ quirky selves. I know sometimes we emulate others I think maybe to fit in ~ to conform to what others think we "should" be ~ but it's best to let your self shine..... maybe I should take my own advice sometimes. xo

  5. This is a great posting It’s exactly what I was looking for. I like your article.

  6. What a wonderful post. I definitely struggled to find myself when I was a teenager, and I instead followed others. It wasn't until I spent enough time with myself that I figured it out. I'm glad I finally did, and I hope I can instill that in my boys as well.

  7. I do think it comes with age......all that experimentation and searching.......and what is normal anyway??

  8. I do think it's something that gets easier with age, and the thing we fight so aggressively against as children. I so hear you re taking on a corporate persona and losing yourself in the process (exactly what happened when I was Criminal Psychologist; I became the aggressive alpha female I needed to be to survive in this world, which was not me at all).
    TYSM also for your lovely comments over at mine; they were very appreciated as I know how busy you are xx

  9. Interesting post, Love of course COCO's quote too! I am a independent thinker and never understood the whole click thing... I have always thought differently and taken the road less traveled by...and I hope my children will travel it too!
    Have a beautiful weekend!

  10. I'm just coming to realize this whole "adaptation" if you will of yourself to survive at work. I fought it for a long time, thinking that I would have to change who I was to fit into a world where I clearly do not fit. But in my adaptation I've found, like you said, how to use skills I've collected when I need them but at all times, still remain true to myself. And it's not easy and I fail at it sometimes when I feel this person I am not start to overtake me. So I stop, breathe and try again. In reference to your comment about the impression you make on others, this is where I have to always be strong. What comes out of me doesn't match my outsides, if that makes sense. Or really, it doesn't match people's expectations of me - they see me and expect something completely different. And most of the time, they don't like it. They don't like being wrong. Now I just ignore it, but it really used to eat at me.


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