Dear Child,

I want to tell you something that may be hard to hear, but you have to promise you will listen until the end. Alright, here goes. Not everyone is going to like you. There, I said it. I know what you’re thinking, and before we go any further I want you to know, it’s OK. It really is OK if everyone doesn’t like you.

You may already know this, but it’s worth repeating—you’re different. We all are. Being different, or unique, is a good thing. The world would be a boring place if we were all the same. If we all shared the same opinions and ideas, we would never grow. Our existence would be stagnant without new perspectives and unique thoughts. So, different is good.

Alright, here comes some more bad news, some people don’t like different. Some people aren’t able to understand experiences outside of their own, and some people are just downright mean. For any of these reasons, people may not like you. They may not like your ideas, your opinions, the way you look, the way you talk, the color of your skin, the place where you live, or any of the millions of other things that make you, you. I know this from experience. Believe it or not, not everyone likes your mama. I was in grade school the first time I realized this—when I learned everyone isn’t your friend. I’ll be honest, I was devastated. Since then, I have learned that my differences are also my greatest strengths. I wish I would have known that back then; that’s why I’m sharing this with you now.

Being rejected hurts, and sometimes it makes you angry. I want you to know, it’s OK to acknowledge these feelings. You can be sad or angry, or both, but never be ashamed of who you are. When I was young, I didn’t want to stand out, I didn’t want to be different. I just wanted to fit in, to be the same, to be included. I would have given anything to belong. You may feel this way, too. You may feel compelled to hide, or change to conform to the ideas of others, don’t. Never let anyone dim your light. You shine as brightly as God intended—always. Because the thing is, you can’t make everyone happy, it’s just not possible.

There will always be someone who sees things differently than you, someone who doesn’t understand your story, or follow your beliefs. That’s OK, remember, different is good. On the flip-side, you will meet people who you don’t understand. This part is important, so listen closely. When you meet the people you don’t understand, remain open. I’m not asking you to take them to lunch or become besties, I’m just saying, give them a chance. Don’t assume you know their whole story. Listen to them, try to see things from their perspective. Even if you still don’t get them, 9 times out of 10, you will learn something from them. Our differences can provide some of our greatest lessons if we are ready and willing to learn.

Never stop being a student.

Be true to yourself, even when it’s not easy. Be open, and show the world that we don’t all have to be the same to belong. Don’t be discouraged when you’re misunderstood or rejected—these are your moments to teach. These are your moments to grow. And, if all this is still too complicated to understand, remember this—there’s no reason to eat cheeseburgers for every meal when you can have pizza, tacos, and cake. Variety is the spice of life, so be spicy, baby. You are perfect just as you are.

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Jorrie Varney

Jorrie is a registered nurse and mother of two. She writes about the reality and insanity of motherhood on her blog Jorrie loves to laugh and snuggle her babies as often as she can. You can follow her on Facebook, Twitter and Instagram.

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