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Do you feel like The Ugly Duckling?

It’s always the same. Your body is there, but your heart longs for something else. You want to belong, but whatever you do, a little something’s not right. If people around don’t reject you, you reject yourself to escape the heavy feeling of disconnection.

Have you ever wondered why you were different?

You tend to question what others take for granted. You challenge the status quo, what’s expected of you, by your parents, your teachers, your peers. Maybe you just look different, think different, feel different. You want to connect with people, but deep inside, you don’t want to compromise who you are.

After years of trying, one day you realize you are The Ugly Duckling, in a family, an environment where you don’t belong.

I know I have.

The Ugly Duckling could swim, but in his community of ducks, he was rejected, he was too ugly, too different. Everything is a matter of perspective, but there, he couldn’t be who he was. He fought it at first, denying the ugly truth, trying to fake his way into this mold, trying to fit in so that the others ducks could accept him as one of their own.

Humans act in the same manner. Being rejected is almost always painful, and sometimes it seems they’re no alternative to choose. It happened to you, almost by magic, one day, the misalignment got too strong. Tired and frustrated with all the efforts you put in that public life, you left your duck “family”, and went on the road, looking for those who would accept you and make you belong. You joined clubs, made new friends, shared different interests, something new clicked, you felt better, but you still weren’t a real match for them (or them for you).

Even though you may be closer to those people, you are still different. It is like you share some parts of you with some people, other parts with other people, but wherever you are, you still are an outsider, out alone in the cold.

After months of trying to keep the water from freezing, in the heart of winter, the Ugly Duckling finally got overwhelmed, and ended up stuck in the ice. This is when a generous man saved him from its fate and brought him home. There, the attention given by his savior’s family was overwhelming, and he got scared. Even though he was accepted into this home, he didn’t belong.

It’s okay to be who you are

Near the end of the story, the Ugly Duckling saw the beautiful swans arriving. Though he knew he was “ugly” and could barely dream of hanging out with them, he followed his heart and tried to engage.

And then it happened.

Instead of being rejected and put to death for his ugliness, he was recognized as the most beautiful swan that ever swum in this lake. He was one of them.

Was he the most beautiful because of what he had to endure to survive and find his way? Or was he born that way? His adventures definitely made him special, if only to us. But it is only when he accepted his difference that he could be whole.

It is okay to be who you are, it is okay to be different. Diversity is the gift of mankind.

Only after you’ve accepted to be who you are, will you attract and recognize the right people. The ones who will bring diversity and love to your life. They will be different, and same as you are. It is from love, deep inside, that we connect with the world and acknowledge we are all one.

How to be different and still connect with others

The common bonding mechanism uses a common interest or characteristics, but that doesn’t work well when one can only worry about their differences. It doesn’t have to be this way.

Here is a little technique that you can use to foster your connections with others using your differences:

  • Pick two of your friends or idols. For each one, identify one trait that makes them similar to everybody else (like, having wings), and one that makes them special (like being a very little creature)
  • Identify the connections they are able to foster using both these traits. Are they good? Enjoyable? Do they help the world as a whole?
  • Do the same for you, while making an emphasis on all the connections you can create using your differences.
  • Play with your differences and put them to work towards deeper connections.

If you’re not convinced that this is possible, ask a friend to help you repeat this work for every person on earth until you are.

We are all special, we are all the same. There is nobody like you and you are like everybody else. This is why we all have something special and unique to contribute to the world.

Growing tired of being different is the first step of the journey into the wild. After trying out different homes, comes the time of acceptation of who you are. We are all different, and the more special, the more blessed you are, as you can offer more to the world. You just have to expand your wings and take off.

Our differences are our assets in life, how are you using yours?

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