‘Stay weird!’ This is a quote that’s stayed with me for a while now and it’s something that Justin Timberlake said during a speech at one of his awards ceremonies. He spoke about his childhood and how he always felt different to others and at times even weird because he was so different. He said he often saw things from a different perspective and often challenged the status quo. His speech resonated with me as there have been times during my own life when I’ve felt different to others. This has led to me feeling like I don’t belong in certain situations and has left me feeling a lack of sense of belonging.

Have you ever felt like you don’t belong? Have you ever felt different to others or perhaps adopted a different mindset and this has somehow made you different to others? This difference in mindset, belief, outlook and/or way of living can set us apart from others, and whilst this feels empowering it can also feel very lonely at times too.

I know because for as long as I can remember there have been several occasions when I’ve often felt different to others, even made to feel like an ‘odd ball’ and/or slightly ‘weird’ for having a different opinion and I used to think that was a bad thing and it’s taken time for me to realise it’s not.

Growing up I’ve always had a large social circle and I’ve always been very accepting of others’ differences too and that includes that of friends, acquaintances and even strangers and I’ve taken their actions on face value. However, this is a trait that isn’t shared by many, I’ve been exposed to so many situations where I’ve witnessed others being very judgemental of one another which has left me feeling very uncomfortable. Whether it’s been a comment, nasty remark or judgement made about someone else, it’s often left me feeling uncomfortable as I make a conscious effort to embrace the way that everyone lives and I’ve adopted the motto, ‘Each to their own,’ but, sadly this isnt adopted by everyone.

Don’t get me wrong I’m not perfect in all of this and don’t profess to be, but I do work hard to try and remain impartial and non-judgemental, this is a huge part of the mindfulness practices I adopt. I also know that as human beings we’re all hard wired to make decisions daily and this is based on past experiences, beliefs and perspectives and in order to make decisions we have to make assumptions. It’s these assumptions and past experiences that cause us to make judgements about others and we do it everyday, unknowingly at times.

When faced with these situations it’s hard to know what to do when you witness others making nasty remarks, I often try to say something like, ‘Well, each to their own’, or I’ll try to challenge their beliefs about someone and will try to get them to see things from a different perspective. After all we don’t know why people do the things they do, we’re so complex as human beings that we can never really understand why others make the decisions they do.

I used to stay quiet when others bitched, whinged and moaned about others but now I have the courage to speak up and have recently spoke to a close friend whom I thought did this alot which I felt was very distasteful. The other thing I’ve struggled with has been attitude towards loyalty, either due to my naivety or desire to see the good in others I’ve always been very loyal but this hasn’t been reciprocated in some circumstances and has led to betrayal from others. In the past I’ve either confided in friends and they’ve let me down or I’ve heard they’ve spoken about me in a unkind way, I give out trust and respect from day one to everyone however, if trust is broken then I find it very difficult to go back to the way things were. This has affected some of the relationships around me and left me wanting to tighten my circle of friends and over the years I’ve realised that there’s only my close friendship circles that I can truly rely on but, I’m more than happy with that.

Nowadays I don’t dwell on this situation, in fact, I embrace it. I think the most important lesson I’ve learned about all of these differences is the importance of embracing your difference in opinion, your difference in perspective and outlook and the importance of always staying true to yourself. So if you ever feel different or weird because of a belief system you have or because you too believe you can do anything you set your heart and mind to then never doubt yourself and always work hard to make those dreams come true, even if others don’t believe in that dream.

The way I live my life now is very different to the way I used to, I no longer go along with the crowd when it doesn’t feel right and I am confident in my own ability. This has stood me in good stead and has given me the confidence to distance myself from negativity and the friends I have in my life now are the ones I choose to. These are the friends that see my worth and vice versa, they’re the loyal ones, the special ones and the ones who always provide me with a sense of belonging.

But, more importantly than that, no matter where I go or whom ever I’m with I always feel a sense of belonging because finally, I understand me. I understand my strengths and flaws, I understand my needs and wants in life, my motivations and I understand the things that I want in my life and that’s mainly made up of all of the simple things including; family, loyalty and trustworthy friends, its people who make me laugh and see the good in bad situations. So no matter where I go or whom I’m with I always feel a sense of belonging because I’m happy in my own skin, I like my own company, I value my opinion and trust my gut but more importantly than that I seek out the treasure of pleasure in everything I do.

So if you ever feel like you dont fit in or are different to others in some way, embrace it and have the confidence to speak up and speak out when you feel the need. Stand out from the crowd and don’t be a follower, be you and be authentic by adopting your own belief system and values.

In the words of Justin Timberlake, ‘Stay Weird!’