If Being Different Is a Crime, I'll Do the Time
Having the freedom to be yourself, to be different and authentic, shouldn’t be a bad thing. Being happy with or without a partner, having strength of character, and enjoying a healthy dose of craziness once in a while shouldn’t be criticized. So if being different is a crime, I’ll gladly do the time.
They say that in order to face life, you have to break down your walls. Well, what if you’ve already overcome your fears and insecurities, and it’s other people who dare to cage you in? One shouldn’t be different from the other. Inner growth, which allows you to be free and authentic, involves being strong psychologically and emotionally so you can withstand the obstacles in your environment.
Yves Pélicer, doctor and psychiatrist at Necker-Enfants Malades Hospital in Paris, is known for providing the general public with books on psychiatry that are really educational and easy to understand. Her approach always defends the same principle: psychology should return the dignity of being unique and different to us. We will only find happiness when we allow ourselves and others to be who we really want to be.
But being different in a world where we’re pressured to conform is certainly a personal challenge.
The complex adventure of being yourself
Most psychological approaches teach the value and necessity of being yourself. However, it’s necessary to fine tune this idea a little. “Being yourself” doesn’t include fleeting or circumstantial characteristics. For example, if my partner leaves me, that doesn’t mean I’m someone who doesn’t deserve to be loved. If I don’t have a job, I’m hardly a failure.
Self-acceptance has nothing to do with these random incidents. Nor does it involve accepting what others say, think, or expect of you. Being yourself involves weaving a beautiful web out of your identity and essence and wrapping yourself in it every day. It also involves being faithful to each of your shades and strengths, and trying to constantly improve as you go along.
However, this process of construction and integration of the self also involves sitting down and dedicating some time to a singular goal: getting to know who you really are. This isn’t just a classic philosophical question; there’s a vital aspect behind it.
Knowing who you are involves discovering whether the life you’re living is in harmony with your identity. If I’m a positive, restless dreamer, I can’t be around someone who only talks to throw dirt on my dreams.
Sometimes, when you become aware of who you really are, you realize that nothing around you fits in with your true self…
Be different, imperfect, free, and happy
It isn’t easy to be different in a society that expects all women to be the same. We’ve said it from the start. Even disregarding the patriarchy that we all know so well, in most modern settings, different realities are occurring.
Today, women must fulfill a one-size-fits-all approach in all areas of life: perfection. Every woman is expected to be successful at work, but also to be a mother when the time comes. But not just any mother; she must be a super-mom capable of balancing her job, housework, partner, family, and friends, all while maintaining a perfect body.
But don’t forget that she also must worry about raising equally perfect children who can read and write by age 5.
Sure, these are all good things, and there are women who can achieve them. But behind this overly-demanding list of obligations is the implicit norm that every woman should be the same. A woman without a partner is still judged. A woman who is happy with a few extra pounds is criticized for her laziness, for not taking care of herself. A woman who is successful at work and doesn’t want to be a mother is viewed as strange. But if she’s a mother and breastfeeds in public, she’s also shamed.
In reality, being different is having the courage to be normal, because being normal is being yourself in every one of your actions and decisions. What will never be normal is getting carried away by the frameworks, stereotypes, and expectations that other people establish in their eagerness to control your life.
Being happily imperfect in a world that aspires for false perfection is the healthiest thing you can do. Because there’s nothing better than fearlessly enjoying the freedom to be yourself every day, breaking every chain that appears in front of you and attempts to tie you down.