May 30

Fear of being different

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Of course you’re scared. Who wouldn’t be? Being different can make you stick out like a sore thumb. Especially so if you live in a more traditional society like in Asia, where values are often more conservative.

Perhaps today you’re thinking of doing something different. You might be thinking of starting your own company, of being an artist, and doing something that’s not very common.

You may start feeling scared.

The point of this article isn’t to say,

Have no fear!

Pursue your dreams!

Rather it’s to look at what are some useful reframes to help you to look at being different a little differently, and to also give you helpful, concrete handles to help you with being more comfortable with being different.

fear of being different
Being different is okay. Just have a little more faith in yourself

Being different is scary because it seems unsafe

Let’s look first at why it seems so scary to be different. Often, it’s hardest because of how unsafe it seems. You may have friends who are earning a comfortable pay at a job, which they may not even be doing great at. But they are still earning money.

When you think of your own dreams and plans to be a creative, for example, that may seem crazy.

But nothing is ever safe. Your friends could be sacked tomorrow. In fact, I would say that it’s even more safe to be working for yourself, because you can build up a base of clients that consistently buy you, regardless of what you do.

But if you were to just focus on getting money from your job, poor performance could mean the end of you.

Life’s too short to do something you don’t like

Reaching the end of my contract in my job in October 2021 was the scariest thing that happened to me. I didn’t have another job lined up. I had no visibility over my income and what would happen. At that time, I only had 2 clients that were paying me a combined total of $300.

That was scary. I didn’t know how else to survive.

fear of being different
I was not sure if I would have to eat sandwiches for the rest of my life with little money in the bank

So I doubled down on making writing work.

Even though I don’t earn a huge amount, I’ve managed to adequately cover my living expenses. Doing something different to how others make money is okay. Not earning money as a fulltime, salaried employee is perfectly okay.

What’s important is that you continue to do something that engages you, rather than continually worrying about judgment.

There will always be judgment

Whatever you do, there will be judgment.

Here’s something that may change the way you approach this.

Judgment is good. It means that people are jealous of you. It means that others are looking at what you have, and they are jealous of it. That’s why they are criticising you or making you feel bad about yourself.

But the most important thing is that you do not judge yourself for what you’ve done. You cannot look down on yourself just because you earn less money. Respecting yourself for what you do is vital.

Often, it’s easy to land yourself in a pity party. After all, it’s easy to take a woe-be-me attitude when you’re in the dumps.

I know, because I’ve done that. For the past few months, the hardest times have come when I pass by a restaurant.

I look in, and see the people having fun with their friends, around nice food. When I look at the menu, I know that I probably cannot afford the food. In those times, it’s easy to feel sorry for myself and to wonder when I will ever feel in a more secure place to earn enough money to buy food that I love.

You may face the same in your own experiences. You may find yourself fearing that you won’t have the money. It’s okay. You can just eat beans on toast.

It’s not that bad.

I’m kidding. But honestly, your fear of being different, will hold you back from becoming all that you can ever be. That should be what you fear, rather than your material, physical needs.

You fear failure

fear of being different
What are you really fearful of?

You want a guaranteed win by being different?

That may not happen. Be ready for that. It will be hard for you to accept that just being different is no recipe for success.

Growing up, there were times when I was different for the sake of being different. It wasn’t because I had something special to offer the world.

Honestly, I wanted attention. That’s why you need to ask yourself,

Am I doing this to seek attention, or is it something that I really want to do?

Attention is alluring. Fame is tempting. Many people search for the drug of fame and attention, and end up finding that it never meets their needs.

That’s why the most important question to ask yourself is,

What do you want?

What do you want?

What do you really want? This is a difficult question to answer because it’s sometimes hard to embrace what we want to do with our lives. After all, there’s so many options and there are times when embracing that may leave you being in a poorer place.

But if it aligns with what you want for your life, you may find great joy and meaning in that.

Let me close with this story.

Don’t keep pleasing everyone but yourself

I grew up wanting to be a doctor. When I couldn’t become a doctor because of my poor results, I tried becoming a lawyer.

Still, I couldn’t. It was then that I took a step back.

I saw how so many of my options were grounded in fear rather than in faith.

My friend loves telling me,

Entrepreneurs are the most faithful.

Because they believe in something that’s not there.

The antidote to fear is faith. It’s a faith that whatever happens, you’ll take care of yourself. Many people choose to believe in God, that God will take care of their needs.

Whatever your belief, remember this.

You can only live one life. Make that one life count, living a life that you’re proud of, rather than what someone else will be proud of. Don’t go around pleasing others, and never pleasing yourself.


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