1. Re-define your ‘ideal partner’ not as who best complements the person you’d like to be, but who can love and live with the person you are now. Open yourself up to the odd but honest parts of you – you’re more likely to find a compatible partner and fulfilling relationship, both with someone else and yourself.
2. Realize the things that make you ‘different’ are the ones that make you outstanding – whether you consider yourself social outlier or a budding creative genius is all up to you. It’s so painfully simple, yet somehow we all struggle to be okay with the fact that the traits that make us different from others indicate that we’re capable of things nobody else is – not just that because we aren’t like the tribe, we don’t belong.
3. Give in to yourself completely: despite what most people think, intensified self-monitoring or policing doesn’t actually make you more palatable to others – it just shuts down different aspects of who you are. As they teach in Gestalt therapy, the idea that avoiding the inherently negative aspects of who you are will change or dissolve them is actually what causes the problem. It takes a lot of energy to suppress the shadow sides of yourself, so when you do, you give power to them, making yourself susceptible to acting out. Long story short: accept even the ugly things about you. Doing so is the key to them not ruling your life.
4. Have enough confidence to at least consider the possibility that the ways you think differently are better than the norm, not worse. When we realize we’re different in some way, we tend to immediately believe it’s for the worst. It’s not that you have to run around thinking your opinions are superior to anyone else’s, but do consider that the way you think and what you feel is just as valid, and may offer a different or more positive perspective on an issue – the only problem being that you weren’t letting yourself see it that way.
5. Most of the time, conformity is the reward for everybody liking you… except you. “Fitting in” and making yourself seem more acceptable does feel good, but not for the right reasons. This is to say: it ultimately backfires. What you eventually discover is that almost everything feels better than behaving in a way that ensures everyone will like you – because that is the most watered-down, half-assed version of who you are.
6. How ‘normal’ someone is is essentially how well they adhere to the construct of ‘right.’ When you’re feeling most self-conscious about being ‘weird’ or ‘different,’ remember that most of what we think as normal is a social construct, and changes through decades, or across countries, and even between social circles. When you’re comparing yourself to the norm, try to remember that you can only perceive an idea of what that is, not the reality of what we all are.
7. Use the things that stand out to you as ‘odd’ as guidelines toward what you’re here to do. No exceptional thing – creation or love or life – was bred out of a desire to keep coloring within acceptable lines. Assume that what makes you different is a signal toward what exceptional thing you could be here to do. People like to say that there’s something every single person can offer that nobody else in the world can, and I like to think that’s true. Our individuality is more than just something to identify with – it’s something to offer others.