It is easy to join a crowd, go along with the flow, just agree with what is popular. No one likes to rock the boat, stick out like a sore thumb, or be seen as different. We tend to gauge what is the right thing to do by what the majority sees as right. Just like a twig or board in the water coasting along, not needing to expend extra effort.

Just getting through each day can be tiring. Work is better if you can just muddle along, meet the quotas, do exactly what you’re told, and not be contrary. You put in your time and have fun afterward. You don’t have to spend time or energy or brainpower.

But that is just living, not being alive. Something in us tells us that we should be better, that the status quo is not satisfying. That there is more to life than just going along to get along. What is it that is lacking?

You are not a cookie-cutting replica of the standard model human. You have a unique background in biology and environment. Based on your parents you have a unique physical makeup. If you have siblings you are still different. For instance two of my four sisters are lefthanded, I am righthanded. I am an Earlybird, while only one of my sisters is that way. I am an introvert, while a couple of my sisters are very not that way.

And due to your environment and personal early history, there are differences about you. How and where you were raised makes a difference. I was raised by parents who were voracious readers, who accepted all people just as they were and valued curiosity. Not all people have those same benefits. Some people weren’t taught the value of education and did not have a history of ancestors going to college. For me going to college was a no-brainer, since my dad was insistent that all his kids would go to college. My parents and grandparents all attended at least some college, and all of us kids did as well.

But you also have a working mind,, with the ability to think and find differences. If you let yourself explore and experiment you will be able to express those differences. No one learns to swim by just floating. No one develops muscles by carrying nothing. No one learns by not being tested.

And nothing new comes about without doing things differently. There were times in our history when people said “if man were made to fly he would have been given wings”. Every invention came as a result of someone believing things could be done better, easier, more efficiently by doing things differently.

And progress is made by standing up for the difference. Yes, it will take effort and not always be successful. You may lose friends – or at least those you thought were friends. But you also may gain new ones or persuade old ones of your truth. We all have our comfort zones, but growing doesn’t come from staying there. And as I heard recently when you stretch out of your comfort zone, you make that comfort zone bigger.

So don’t just be an echo – be a voice.