It’s Okay… to be different

Can I tell you a secret? I don’t like The X-Factor. Can I tell you another secret? I don’t like tea or coffee. I can tell you another one – one of my favourite types of music is classical.

He likes shorts, she likes jumpsuits – still best of friends!

Now, you might have read those secrets and thought, ‘Who cares?’ or you might have looked at them and been shocked and horrified – ‘Who doesn’t like The X-Factor? What a strange person she must be’, is what you might have thought.

Watching the X-Factor, or enjoying something else?

If I don’t like something that you do, does that mean that we can’t be friends? In most cases, it probably doesn’t. You don’t have to stop being my friend because you know that I don’t like tea or coffee, do you? In the same way, I won’t stop being your friend if you tell me you prefer One Direction’s version of the Blondie hit One Way or Another. If you don’t know who Blondie are – that’s okay, just ask anyone over the age of 30 and they’ll tell you.

Sometimes, though, it feels hard to be different.

It sometimes feels hard to be different

It can feel hard to have a different opinion when lots of other people feel differently to how you do. If you are playing with your friends at school and everyone says they absolutely love Little Mix but you think they are the worst band to ever have walked the planet, that can be quite hard to say, can’t it?

Speaking up with a different opinion certainly isn’t always easy.

Everyone likes different things, and do you know what? It’s okay! What you must remember is that being different doesn’t necessarily mean you are wrong.

DIFFERENT DOES NOT MEAN WRONG

Different does not always mean wrong

Can you imagine if absolutely everyone loved drinking the same things, eating the same things, listening to the same music and watching the same TV programmes? We wouldn’t need to have shops or different TV channels or radio stations as we would all just eat the same thing all the time while watching the same programme all day every day.

That would get boring quite quickly, wouldn’t it?

Heading in the same direction can sometimes be a bit boring!

Being different is actually wonderful. It is wonderful because it shows that you have your own thoughts and feelings and opinions, and they are all just as important as your parents’ or your brother’s or sister’s or friend’s.

Trust me: being different is wonderful.

Being different can be fun and pretty cool

If you find it hard to be different, here are some ideas you could try:

  • Look all around you for differences – look at the trees, flowers, and animals and compare their differences.
  • Think about your friends and family. List some of the differences you can see between you all, thinking about your likes and dislikes, your accents, clothes you like to wear, and so on.
  • Practice talking about differences in your family. For example, if two people support different football teams, talk about why each one supports the team they do.
  • Other ways you can practice talking about differences in your family is to set up a mini debate: each person could choose a favourite animal (as long as they are different!), and take it in turns to talk about why that animal is their favourite.
  • You could also practice by talking with your friends about differences. Talk about the foods you like, the music you like to listen to and the books you like to read. Remember, if someone likes a food that you don’t, neither of you are wrong – just different.
  • Were you born in the same place you now live? Many people come from different towns, or even different countries. Talk to people who come from places other than the town you live in now. I live near Manchester now, but I was born in Scotland, so there are lots of differences between me and my family. I have a different accent, I grew up next to the sea instead of in a big town, and there are foods and drinks that I like which aren’t as common where I live now.

Being different isn’t always easy, especially if people don’t understand those differences but the key point to remember is that it really is okay to be different, and being different does not mean being wrong.

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