On Being Different


“The best time to plant a tree was 20 years ago. The second best time is now.” — Chinese Proverb.

One student asked a shocking question, “Why do some Americans do not like marriage?”

Raising my eyebrows, I humbly replied, “Umm...perhaps some people are different. They like living by themselves.”

“So can I just live with my dog when I grow up?”

“I suppose you can if you want to be different. But I suggest you ask your mother first.”


That short conversation made me think as to why some people are different and why it’s okay to be one.

You know, I get misunderstood a lot! In fact, I’ll always be misunderstood by someone. Especially when I follow my heart instead of the crowd. After all, we each have a responsibility to determine what we are living for and invest our lives with meaning that we find significant.

One of the lessons of history is that following your heart can invite persecution from those who are too afraid to follow their own.

My duty isn’t to be understood or to impress others. It’s to be at peace with myself and treat others as how I would like to be treated, regardless of what they think of me. If I spend my life trying to impress others, I’ll die having never really lived.

I believe in doing good things and reputation will take care of itself. Besides, I inspire people by being different, not by being the same as them.

That said, whatever makes you unique, is what makes you remarkable. Whatever makes you remarkable, is what makes you marketable. There’s room in the world for your individual uniqueness. It just might take awhile to find the people who will value it.

It’s a beautiful thing to be able to do what you love. It starts by having the courage to try. You have to start somewhere to get where you want to be. And if you’re fortunate enough to do the things you love, you should be grateful. Be grateful for the opportunities you’ve been given.

You can spend your whole life doing what you don’t want to do, and die. Or you can spend your life doing what you do want to do, and die. The end result is the same. The question is whether or not you’re going to enjoy yourself in the meantime.