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In Praise of Different

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I've spent the majority of my life feeling as if I don't belong.

The truth is, I don't fit in, and I'm just not like most other people.

I never have been. There are many times when I've truly believed that I was born at the wrong time, or on the wrong planet in the wrong form. I simply don't see the world and how we do things the same way that others do.

Fact: I will always feel different, because I am different.

When I was younger, this felt like a bad thing to me. Why wasn't I like the other kids? Why didn't I understand why we all did the things we did? Why didn't I seem to care about the seemingly "important" things that everyone else cared so much about? Why couldn't I just fit in?

I became very good at pretending... I learned how to seem interested, mastered the art of small talk, went to the mall and pretended it was the best thing ever, discussed celebrities like they mattered, acted as if I was like everyone else, and adopted a life path that society highly favored. This, as you may already know, lead me straight to my quarter-life crisis at 21 years old. I lost sight of myself by trying to fit in.

Now that I've rediscovered myself, I realize what a waste of time and energy it is to try and fit in. It's so much better to just show up and be yourself.

It's not always easy, especially when you've spent years trying to fit in and, quite honestly, can't remember who you really are. That happens, believe me I know! It's worth starting, even if, just for today, you wear something you really want to wear, no matter how unfashionable or weird it is. Even if, just for today, you say what you really think about the conversation topics that surround you. Even if, just for today, you do something you want to do, even if it's uncool and totally not your friends' style.

Here's what I've learned about stepping into your truth:

1) No matter how different you are, that authentic version of you is so much more lovable than the facade you put on to fit in.

It wasn't until I really started stepping into my truth, speaking my truth and following my heart that I met people who I truly connect with. I have the most amazing friends in my life. Friends who know and love me in all my weird, quirky, spiritual, feisty and passionate ways. I have a better connection with my family and I feel very supported in following a path that lights my soul on fire, though it's untraditional and sometimes hard. I have a tribe of amazing people, like you, who cheer me on, read my words, support me and participate in this movement I'm creating. I have a guy who is so amazing, so in love with me, and so perfect for who I am and what I want in my life.

I've never felt so connected, fulfilled, truthful and in love with life as I do now. If I'd continued to try to fit in, I wouldn't have these amazing people in my life. I'd have fake, surface level relationships that left me feeling empty and isolated. That's no fun, is it?

2) Life is so much better when you just show up as you are, even if other people don't like or get it.

I've never been happier as a human being than I am right now, and I'm still stepping further and further into my truth. I'm still working to align my life on all levels with what I believe I'm here to do. Even on bad days, even when everything falls apart, even when it's hard... I'm filled with joy.

Being yourself is just such a load off! You can just love what you love, focus on what matters to you, spend time with the people that adore you and enjoy a life that fulfills you on a deep level. There's no effort involved. No working to fit in, trying to love something you hate, or fake conversations with people you don't really connect with. It's just love, connection, fun, truth, joy, passion and fulfillment.

3) It really doesn't matter if you piss someone off, alienate others or lose "friends" by becoming true to yourself.

It will seem like it does, it will probably even hurt (quite possibly hurt a lot), but in the long run, it's so worth it. When you step into your truth, you may lose some people. Friends that don't like it or "get" you anymore. A significant other that's threatened by the changes, or maybe just isn't into the person you're becoming. Family who has a clear and firm expectation of who you "should" be.

You have to remember that you're changing the game on people when you step away from the facade and start being true to you. It's normal for this to shift the relationships you have in your life. However, when we let the wrong people fall away it creates space for the amazing people to show up. The ones I talked about above that truly love, adore, get and support the real you fully and completely. That is so fulfilling in and of itself. You might feel a little lonely at first, even more isolated and sad, but stay the course. It's so worth it in the end.

Take action now!

I want you to own your truth, right now. Even if that doesn't mean anything changes just yet, or that you step into it fully, you're going to start by owning it right here in the comments. What makes you different? How are you weird? What is unique about you? What do you really care about, or really not care about?

I'll start...

I'm extremely intuitive and borderline psychic (I would say "I am psychic," but then you'd ask me to tell you your future and that's just not how it works). I'm deathly allergic to small talk (it kills my soul). It's impossible for me to actually, truly care about things like sports, celebrities or anything that I don't personally deem meaningful, inspiring, or truly important to this world (what's meaningful is subjective, remember that). I'm in a constant state of contradiction because I can feel and believe one thing, while feeling and believing it's exact opposite with equal intensity (I can literally feel my way into both sides of any situation or argument, it's exhausting). I care deeply about making a difference in the world and it can be all consuming. I'm intense. I'm deep. I'm passionate. I'm opinionated. I'm feisty. I'm wired to challenge beliefs, ideas, authority figures and structures. I also tend to make my own rules where maybe I shouldn't. I do what I want and I'm as stubborn as they come. I love animals, all of them. I'm not a phone person and if you call me I won't answer, nor will I likely listen to your voicemail. I believe anything's possible, always have. I'm absolutely ridiculous. I dream big. Really big.

Okay, your turn! Share with me what makes you different (and therefore incredibly amazing, because it does).

And if you haven't seen it, I love this Apple commercial from 1997 that features some amazing people in a beautiful salute to thinking (being!) different.

Stephenie Zamora is the founder of www.stepheniezamora.com;, a full-service, life-purpose development, design and branding boutique. Here she merges the worlds of personal development and branding to help young women build passion-based businesses. Click here to download her free guide, "The Unexpected Trick to Transforming Your Life With ONE Single Question."

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