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4 Powerful Ways to Deal with Being Different
School is like a giant fishbowl. You feel everyone’s eyes on you, but most of all, you can see everyone in all their good-looking, popular, and clever glory. And with Instagram, Facebook, and the other social media networks, comparing yourself to others is the easiest thing in the world.
Well, it’s time to stop! Constantly evaluating yourself against others is a natural impulse. Trust me. We do it all the time. But self-comparison can actually make us feel much worse about ourselves and strip away our self-confidence.
Because it’s endless. We could compare ourselves to others for everything – her hair looks nicer than mine, she’s taller than me, he’s so confident with girls, other people like them more than me. We could literally compare ourselves to other people for anything and everything! This self-comparison can become a very draining source of anxiety, worry and stress all on its own. And it doesn’t just happen at school or college. This can follow us into work and strip away our ability to properly enjoy life.
So if it causes such unhappiness, why do we do it to ourselves? Well, it’s a normal and completely natural impulse. It’s a way to work out how much we fit in with other people. As social beings, we need a sense of belonging, and this comes to us in the form of wanting to fit in. The trouble, though, comes when we take this too far – when we look at ourselves as inadequate and inferior in comparison to others.
Not only is self-comparison stressful, this needing to fit in can also stop us from appreciating our uniqueness, which is actually a positive thing. We’re all different, even if we do fit into some groups more than others. It may not feel like it now, but being an individual is actually admired, respected and appreciated as we move throughout life. The only problem is that it’s hard to remember this when you’re surrounded by peers, family members and your own opinions telling you it’s easier and better to fit in.
One of the biggest things I’ve learned at school was that bullies go for the different, not the inferior. Being bullied does not mean you’re inadequate. In fact, to them, due to their own feelings of inadequacy, you’re more of a threat and are likely to be someone they’re comparing themselves to due to appearance and qualities they admire. Think about it: What if we looked at bullying as jealousy and fear? This in no way excuses bullying behavior, but I hope it helps you to think slightly differently on the commonly asked question of ‘ why me?’ There’s is nothing wrong with you! Quite the opposite, actually. You are different and unique. And that’s a wonderful thing, indeed.
Being different is an asset. Trust me. When you’re out in the world after finishing school, it’s standing out that’s key. So let’s start with acknowledging what makes you different and looking at it as your biggest strength and source of power.
4 tips for dealing with being different
1) Listen to your self-talk:
Are you comparing yourself to other people? Are you praising others and speaking highly of them whilst being down on yourself?
They’re so much more/less than me … Why can’t I be more like them or do what they’re doing … I’m so bad/ useless/ awful.
These thoughts are normal but can really affect how we feel. It’s important that you take notice of how you’re talking to yourself and make sure you’re not always putting yourself down.
2) Make a list of things you like about yourself
I know this is normally really hard, and that’s okay. It can be small things, too.
It’s also helpful to write down comments or positive things a friend or stranger has said to you. This is hard to remember off hand, but keeping a log as you go and adding to it when someone says something nice or gives good feedback can really help. You can also add to it when you realize you managed something better than you thought you normally would.
The key here is to write it all down and not judge it. Get it on paper – or in your phone/computer. Whichever way is easiest and nearest to you. Refer to the list often to give you a needed boost.
3) Make note of what’s different about you and acknowledge how it might be a good thing
Write these down! The best way to do this is to write down whatever you think makes you different, and then look at what you’ve written as if it’s a list of someone else’s qualities. Imagine it’s a good friend of yours. What would you say to them? How are these qualities/characteristics helpful/good to have in another person. Write this down and read what you’ve written often. This will serve as a great reminder of why your uniqueness is a beautiful thing.
4) Look at ways you can do more of what makes you different–
Are there any ways you can get more involved with things you like doing? Dancing, drawing, reading – whatever it is that makes you happy. Do more of that! Enjoy the things you enjoy doing. It’s important to make time for the things that fill you with joy. Especially if they’re the things that make you different!
It’s as the saying goes…
Your value does not decrease based on another’s inability to see your worth.
You are worthy and your difference just enhances what’s interesting about you. So let’s do our best to appreciate it!
Article by Megan Prowse