Dear Young People of Today,
Sooner or later, you will meet people who make you feel uncomfortable about being yourself. Perhaps you’ve already met them. Perhaps they’re your classmates, or friends, or cousins.
They may have the best intentions. They may not mean to make you feel bad. Perhaps they just haven’t learned yet that people can be different from them and that that’s okay.
Or perhaps they’ve just learned cruelty early. Perhaps they haven’t been taught respect.
Whatever their reasons, they may say things to you or demand things of you that make you feel it’s not enough to be you.
They might make you feel bad about being a reader; about being smart, being diligent, or being polite to your teachers. They might make you feel uncomfortable for liking to learn, for having uncommon interests, for being “weird,” for doing your best in school, for asking questions, for knowing the answers, for refusing to cheat.
They might tease you about being bad at sports. Or about only being good in sports.
They might make you feel bad about always speaking up. Or they might tell you to speak up more when you were perfectly at peace being quiet.
You might feel you have to change, hide, exaggerate, or diminish who you are in order to fit in. To be cool. To make them like you. To have friends.
Don’t let them change who you are.
Don’t apologize for not being average. Or for not being particularly special.
Don’t apologize for being yourself.
And don’t ever let anybody make you feel that you’re not enough.
Because you are.
And if they don’t recognize that, more fool them.
The esteem of people you need to change to please is not worth chasing.
But maybe, just maybe, yours will be the example they need to open their minds to different truths.
Be the “weirdo” if that’s what they insist on calling you. Be the studious guy; be the “good girl.” Come far enough in life and you’ll realize nobody cares if you hung out with the cool kids at school but they will care about character and attitude and integrity.
So be you.
Because the truth is: the world needs more people like you.
The world needs the YOU that is uniquely YOU.
And someday, I promise, if you haven’t yet, you will meet the ones who will like you, appreciate you, and make you feel good for being just exactly who you are.
That’s how you’ll know you’ve met your people.
And you will be so, so glad you have not diminished.