It’s not easy to take an unpopular stand. It’s even more difficult when you must do it alone.

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“Gonzo October” by John Heino Photography. Used with permission.

There’s safety in numbers. That’s why many species of creatures in the wilderness stick together, from goats to gazelles, baboons to zebras. This herd instinct is quite natural, and it’s not always bad.

But for humans, there are aspects of the herd mentality which can be quite painful. Sometimes, at work or in school, we are afraid to express ourselves because we are afraid of what the others will think. We fear being ostracized socially because we may not agree with a popular point of view. Even something as simple as choosing how we would like to dress can become difficult as we struggle with the fear of ridicule and other negative attitudes from the herd. As a result, rather than suffer the anguish of rejection, we bury our true selves and play along.

Many people live whole lives repressing their true selves because of this fear of being misunderstood, shamed or scorned.

The desire to “fit in” is normal, and to some degree healthy. But when we are inordinately concerned about what others think, we not only injure ourselves, we obscure the unique jewel of our true selves.

Yes, each of us is unique, with a unique perspective that has value to others who lack our experiences, our personal insights by which others can be enriched. As for the way we dress? God clothed the flowers in an array of styles and colors. What if a red rose demanded that all roses be red? Or that unless you were a rose, you were not even a flower, hrumph! Silly thoughts, really. We could learn a lot from thinking about the flowers.

My uniqueness is my greatest strength. And so yours is yours.

Originally published at ennyman.com.

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An avid reader who writes about arts, culture, literature & other life obsessions. @ennyman3 Look for my books on Amazon https://tinyurl.com/y3l9sfpj

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