For many years, I noticed this expression (above) on the wall of an antique shop, while heading for Zandvoort, a Dutch beach town. Daring to be different is, however, against human nature. Most of us strive for (social) conformity because a group offers (dis-) advantages (eg, Greater Good magazine).
As a boy attending secondary school (ages 12–16), I did not dare to be (too) different. Subconsciously, I understood group dynamics. Some did not and became targets for (mild) bullying. My school grades made me different anyway because I preferred getting high grades.
If you do not excel in anything but learning then high grades will earn you some admiration by the group. It’s the only remaining way to achieve a higher ranking within that group. In my view, underperforming without anything else to compensate for (eg, jokes, looks, music, sports) does not make any sense.
Achieving high grades became a habit in my life; low grades a disappointment. It’s hard to remember any test that I failed. Perhaps, there are none.
The older I get, the more I dare to be different and the less social I’m becoming. I prefer to be alone with my thoughts. For me, being social requires a conscious effort and a deliberate compromise (with myself). I do not want to become an eccentric hermit. Moreover, being social provides new inspiration.
People claim that you need to join groups when you start living in a new place. I did not – and do not – join groups. Actually, I do not even like groups. Groups do not seem to be interested in each other; just in being a talking head. Groups usually make me quiet as I lack the willingness to contribute.
On a micro level, groups are often about competition (eg, business, sports). I do not need or want that because I believe in cooperation, which is usually at a macro level (eg, EU, NATO). Even within groups, it’s about competition (eg, Most Valuable Player, Employee of the Month).
An interesting and counterintuitive thought just entered my mind: cooperation benefits from differences (eg, orchestra), while competition prefers conformity (eg, playing by the rules). To be continued – or not.
I dare you to be different.
Note: all markings (bold, italic, underlining) by LO unless in quotes or stated otherwise.