A few years ago, inspired by my colleagues who were great enthusiasts, I joined a line dancing class. This was disastrous as I soon discovered that I was no good at it. I was always doing the wrong step. When the class went right, I went left. When everyone put their left leg forward, I put my right leg forward. In short, whatever the rest of the class did, I did the very opposite. I could not do line dancing. Most people who know me know that I love dancing and that I just love moving to music. So what was it with line dancing? I believe my inability to do was because I could not conform. I am a non-conformist. I always have been one.

Different From Young

From an early age I recognized that I was different from other people. I was not like other people in the way they dressed, the way they spoke and even in the way they lived their lives. Take dressing. In my undergraduate days, I used to dress flamboyantly. I wore green and pink tights and I had a coloured pair of boots. Today I still love bright colours and dramatic outfits. While many others prefer to wear black, I, instead, choose to wear purple, yellow or orange. I put feathers in my hair and on my blouses. I wear hats and shoes with bright colours. A friend of mine loves putting flowers in her hair and she just radiates the charm. I like to highlight my hair with colour. It has had red, pink, purple and mahogany highlights. I have also experimented with green, blue and yellow nail polish. In short I do not use the usual.

Call me what you will: eccentric, peculiar, unusual, different! It does not bother me. I am what I am. My colours and style express my happy self. I see the world in colours and I express my emotional ties with my environment and the people I meet in different colours. I have never been afraid to do the opposite from the rest. Many decades ago, my University hostel organised a fancy dress hop. All the girls attending the hop came dressed in crinoline gowns looking like something out of Gone with the Wind. I chose to go as War. It was the time of the Vietnam War and I wanted to express my revulsion of violence. On a white bed sheet pulled over me, I stuck army items..water bottle, etc. I wrote on the sheet, wore a purple wig and carried a skull, borrowed from a medical student who lived on the same floor at the hostel. I looked a right mess! My date freaked out when he saw me but I was awarded the first prize for the best costume! Creativity and Difference won that day!

Following Trends

Unfortunately most people tend to follow styles and trends. Fashion dictates to us what we wear. We do not have to follow fashion. Instead you should be different and have your own style. When we follow trends and fashion, we are actually allowing others to dictate to us what to wear. When we all wear the same outfit, we look-alike and no one can tell the difference between us. Take uniforms, they create conformity. Visualise a military parade. Column after column of soldiers, dressed alike and marching in unison present the image of conformity.


When people move in the same manner, behave in the same way and when they think alike, there is little creativity. Is this such a good thing? For creativity to develop people need to think differently. They need to think broadly and widely. They need, as the expression states, to “think out of the box.” To enhance creativity people must be free to express themselves. They can do this in their writing, their art, their music, their work, their dressing, their hair and their lifestyle. All societies need creative people to succeed and develop. It is necessary that everyone is tolerant of others who are different and who express themselves in creative ways. We can all be tolerant of diversity and differences. We should avoid labeling people and use these labels to belittle people.

Expressing Views

As with my fashion style, I have over the years adopted a way of thinking and expressing myself in words differently from most people. At open forums and meetings I do not hesitate to speak and offer my views, ask questions or make suggestions for change. Similarly I have no fear of writing an objection, pointing out errors and making a complaint. The need to conform, to accept and to keep quiet has never featured in my life.

Why Do We Conform?

But why do we conform and try to blend in with the rest? We conform and follow the trends blindly because we want to be like other people. We are afraid to be different. We do not wish to stand out in a crowd. We think about what others will think of us if we are different. Will they look down on us? Will they think that we are bad?

Be Different

My advice to you is to develop the confidence to be different. Be comfortable in what you do. So dress in a style that you like. Surround yourself with confident, happy people who live life in a positive manner. Reach out to as many people as possible and learn not to allow the envious, the ugly and the cruel people of this world to put you down. Believe in yourself, your abilities and your ideas. You are who you are: a valuable human being who will enhance the world.

We want a world made up of different people. We want a world of colour, joy and brilliant visuals. We want optimistic people who are open-minded, creative and bold. Creative people can solve problems and in this fast paced world we need many more problem solvers. Decide to be different and experiment with different styles. Do something different today. Learn something new. Acquire a new skill and express your thoughts about a current issue, however radical it may seem. Do not be afraid! Dare to be different!

2 thoughts on “DARE TO BE DIFFERENT”

  1. Yes, Zaibun, you are so right – To stretch the meaning of the original axiom, Vive la difference! And you sho’ are different, honey bunch! How we all love you. This is just to let you know a) that we received your lovely Christmas greetings card, thank you so much, and b) I did as exhorted inside said card, i.e. I went straight to your lovely blog, and will see you there again in future!

    Much love, Ilsa & Siva in Perth

  2. Allay yourself with a good cartoonist and a “Rapper” and become “the belle of the ball” in staid Singapore.

    We admire you
    The terrible two,
    Jimmy and Paru
    (The in-house Omar Khayyam and his better-half too.)

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