From a very young age, I’ve always understood the importance of standing out from the crowd and being different. Conformity is a very dangerous thing. To conform is to be average, and it’s very easy to fall into that trap. You have to realize that you are a one of a kind in this world; there are over seven billion people, and you are completely unique from every one of them. That has always been an empowering reminder for me. The sad part is, a lot of people fail to capitalize on what makes them unique. As John Keating says in one of my favorite movies, Dead Poets Society, “You must strive to find your own voice. Because the longer you wait to begin, the less likely you are to find it at all.”
Before my junior year of high school, I went to a Point Guard College basketball camp, which is considered to be one of the best camps in America. I learned a lot over the course of the five days I was there, and I learned just as much about life as I did about basketball. One of their main points was how crucial it is to stand out. One of the camp’s directors, Dave Daniels, played basketball for Colorado Christian University, and even played alongside Steve Nash for the Canadian National Team in the 2000 Olympics.
After his college career, he got offered the chance to try out with the Denver Nuggets in their summer league. Daniels came from a small Division II school, and he didn’t look like the prototypical NBA basketball player. He knew he had to stand out from the crowd and get everyone’s attention.
Daniels was playing defense on the Nuggets’ starting point guard. As the point guard dribbled the ball up the court, Daniels ran into him with his shoulder and knocked the Nuggets’ star to the ground. It was an obvious foul, but Daniels made his statement. From that point on, everyone’s eyes were on him. Instead of writing him off as just another guy on the court, Daniels stood out from the crowd, and the scouts and coaches were able to then recognize his talent. He very easily could have been looked over that day, but he decided to be bold, and broke through the wall of conformity. He wasn’t just another guy. He was different.
“Only dead fish go with the flow.”
The people in our world who we view as “successful” are those who dared enough to stand out from the crowd. Standing out is a scary thing to do. It makes it easier for people to point and criticize and judge. You become vulnerable. But you also become empowered. Refusing to silence your own unique voice is a beautiful thing. Embracing who you are, not who the world wants you to be, is the most important choice you will ever make. Choose wisely.