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We are social beings and for the sake of unity and harmony we tend to conform. Although many of us say we want to be different we’re only prepared to express our individuality up a point. Too much difference and we worry that we’ll be seen as weird, a crank, antisocial or arrogant. ‘Not fitting in’ brings harsh judgements from our peers.

We like to be like others and to be liked. We also feel more comfortable, and get on better with people who we feel are like us. But, we also want to get on in life, and this creates a paradox.

Ambition involves growth and change. Even if you don’t have high aspirations to excel at something, it’s a given of our existence that we should develop identity, character, and the confidence to exist as a unique being.

You can only manage the tension between these parallel drives if you recognise that they exist. Both are important, and both must be accommodated. It’s a delicate balancing act.

Connection makes us similar, but growth happens through difference.

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Being different is a source of connection and belonging.


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