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“No one can make you feel inferior without your consent.” ~ Eleanor Roosevelt

In a way, we are all different – and we are meant to be so. But society likes to level things out and manage groups – and those who appear difficult to quantify, who don’t fit into a useful label, are considered out of the norm, and sometimes disregarded by those that do fit the ‘run of the mill’ perception.

So being different may mean that you stand out, and at the same time mean that you may be left out. This is the result of a world where everyone tries to blend in, and there is a leaning towards invisibility and under-achievement. Being different actually means you have a range of opportunities open to you not obviously available to others. Being different gives you every chance to bypass the ‘same’ mentality and find your own innovative ground, your own sense of identity, outlook and purpose.

Whatever the reasons you feel you are different, whether physically, psychologically, intellectually – it doesn’t matter, because the value is tremendous. Here’s how you can develop a super positive perspective:

Being different makes you unique

Individuality is a precious thing in a world striving for unity of thought and action. So don’t retreat to isolation – instead be proud of who you are and how interesting you can make yourself. In fact, people might envy your ability to stand out and make an impression. And you are able to do this by simply being yourself. What becomes attractive is your difference, your confidence, and your easy acceptance of yourself and of others. It is so liberating and empowering to accept yourself and just be yourself.

No one is born with the abilities to meet the world’s expectation of “normal” – so don’t spend time trying to conform to a checklist or explain yourself in the hopes that others will then understand your special character and difference. No one else is you. Let your flaws and your quirkiness shine! In a world where people are trying to be something without appearing to be different, your attitude will be so refreshing and inspiring!

Being different can help you to connect and belong

You may be surprised by this, but you stand to automatically connect with others who also feel different, which in itself provides a wide circle of opportunity. All too often people who have aspects that make them feel different, may also feel there is no group where they truly belong. Building your connections among people of similar ilk is a beginning, gives you confidence, a wider view, and space to grow.

It is the broadest platform you can spring from to meet other people. You develop friendships and a circle of connections and associations and support that other people do not have the opportunity to do – and ultimately you become part of a community. And this helps you to move outward to other groups, broadening connections and friends as you go.

 Being different drives motivation

Feelings of being different gives you greater understanding of others in similar situations, gives you a feeling of camaraderie and empathy. Often people who are different are highly qualified, but stereotyped by society for one reason or another. They are your opportunity to provide advice, information and support, guiding them to better situations and financial standing through respect, care and identification with their issues. Shared differences and struggles can motivate us to help others in the same boat.

Being different is usually accompanied by strong creativity

You will notice that very often the people who are most different are also the most innovative thinkers. They are people who often go against the norms. Artists, inventors, designers, entrepreneurs – always the ones marching to their own tune. They think differently – and they don’t care how people react to their ideas and lifestyle.

People who express their differences in new ideas are proud of who they are – and their originality. They risk judgement and have the resilience to try again when they meet failure. They see things differently, and approach life differently. Creativity, in essence, is rooted in their very differences. Your unique persona, experience and perceptions are probably your greatest assets. Nurture and celebrate your difference.

Being different means a balance of energy in relationships

Differences can complement one another. What one partner brings to the table, may be balanced by the opposite in another. Differences between people are often grist to interaction, creative emotion and motivation to take action! Being with someone who is different to you, and mindful of your difference, is a gem indeed. You will find remarkable harmony with such a person, and a true sense of belonging.

The story of Sunfield Home

Chris and Lynne Bennett, parents of a young girl with Down Syndrome, pursued their dream of establishing a home for their daughter and other intellectually disabled young adults in the Western Cape. Together with other parents, they founded the Sunfield Home in Wellington, providing a loving and nurturing environment for over 100 residents and day-care adult individuals.

Each individual is screened to evaluate their strengths and allocate activities according to their abilities. A protective workshop has been established where contract work is undertaken, as well as arts and crafts activities. An employment scheme has also been developed and as a result permanent and successful positions have been found within the surrounding wine and cheese industries.

Find out more about us at: www.sunfieldhome.co.za