Understand it’s ok to be “different” and to follow your own path
If I had a nickel for every time I’ve been called ‘different’ or ‘weird’, I’d probably be a millionaire. I didn’t understand or take it as a compliment that being unique meant that I was willing to be myself until I was an adult. Thank goodness I finally accepted it! As a child, you not only want to be like your peers you are pressured to be like everyone else. In school, we are taught to stand in lines, repeat phrases uniformly, and any thing that smacks as any sort of outlier means we will feel that pressure to be placed back into that very well-thought out little peg. For whatever reason, I have had this very strong notion since I first started thinking analytically that if I’m not being true to who I am, I am not able to accept things in total. Fortunately, not everyone thinks that square pegs are made to be sharpened down – to take away the very things that make us special – and our history has many fascinating discoveries because someone who thought outside the box was not afraid to continue down another road. Why are we so afraid to just be ourselves? This is a blanket statement, but overall we don’t have to be different than who we are just because it makes someone else uncomfortable. We should be able to be comfortable in our own skin and it’s not ‘wrong’ to be different than others.
My freshman year of high school I had a plan to integrate myself completely with my peers – I was tired of being ‘weird’- and while it did make me come out of my shell in some aspects, it also made me feel that I had to mask a lot of who I was as a person. After several difficult years of struggling to be something I was not, I found a lot of acceptance when I was allowed to start attending community college while in high school. I realized that life was so much more than this very narrow way I thought I was ‘supposed to think’ and my eyes grew wide and I wanted more. When you grow up in a remote area in the United States and pre-internet days; discovering other philosophies, other cultures, other people who sometimes think the way you do, it was like a revolution to my soul, baby! The thing about collective groups of people is the judging never stops, but when you are comfortable with who you are, it does not matter. It’s a beautiful world that was opened up to me and at 36 years old I still have times when I have to reflect, re-route, and tow that line I want to take because while the journey isn’t always easy, it feels good to know I don’t do things just because it is ‘what everyone else does.’ I do things because it is who I am, what I believe, and times when I can’t compromise.
I also learned that when I speak out, I’m not so different than others; my thoughts or feelings might not just be the loudest voice in the room. That’s ok! After all, I’m not a loose canon that is trying to damage things or go my own way to just do it. I enjoy having friends, learning new things, and creating successful environments. That’s why Mark’s story in the new children’s book Remember, Just Be You hit so very close to home. You can feel like you are so alone, when in fact, your journey of being yourself is a universal tale. It’s important to me that my girls know that they are allowed to be themselves and can relax and work well in a room full of people they may feel aren’t like them. There is strength in knowing who you are and allowing others that same respect. You forge real friendships that way and you are able to learn from others, too.
In the story, Remember, Just Be You, Mark is at a brand new school and is really struggling to try and fit in. He doesn’t enjoy sports like some of the other boys, he cannot play an instrument, he is ignored at recess, and he has not learned how to ride a bike and doesn’t look like other kids in his class. He’s not sure he wants to continue going to school! After all, he doesn’t feel like he belongs anywhere. Mark’s parents understand and talk with Mark to let him know that in any situation it’s always best to, “Just be you!” If he wants to learn new things, he has to work on it, but if he isn’t interested in playing sports, than that’s perfectly fine. Mark has many wonderful qualities and interests he can hone and he will find others who share the same interest or that will cheer him on in his successes. This is a refreshing tale for families and it’s a great reminder that all of us come in different packages. It’s easy to look around and compare or get upset if we think we are failing because we don’t align with others, but it’s actually better to have confidence in yourself and be determined in the areas in life where you really want to succeed. School is an opportunity to learn different things and gravitate to what you want to do with your life, it’s not about following a crowd. Inspire your kids to follow their own path so that they grow to be successful and confident adults, and not do things just so they blend in. Remember, Just Be You, is a message we all need to take to heart and you are never too old to find inspiration that being yourself is a very important part in the equation we call life.
Thoughtfully written and beautifully illustrated, Remember, Just Be You, inspires adults and children to embrace:
- Being different – we are all special and unique
- Acceptance – true friends will always accept you
- Unique talents – we all have hidden talents, we just have to discover what they are
- Patience – with ourselves and finding those who accept us for who we are
- Determination – never give up on yourself
About the Author: William Campbell grew up in small town on the Eastern Shore of Virginia and was determined to make a difference. Currently living in Richmond, Virginia, William is the proud father of a daughter and son, and uncle of three nieces and three nephews. William enjoys volunteering his time to help those in need and is working with elementary schools and guidance counselors to share the message of Remember, Just Be You. A portion of each book sold will go towards Saint Jude and Feed America.
List Price: $ 9.99 (Available through Amazon Prime)