“To be yourself in a world that is constantly trying to make you something else is the greatest accomplishment.” – Ralph Waldo Emerson

One thing I have learned during my twenty-something years on this planet is that sometimes – yes, sometimes – society is wrong about what is morally acceptable. There are certain things that society forbids that aren’t actually inherently wrong, and it’s up to you – and your independent thought process – to define for yourself (using your awesome, superhuman ability to think critically) what “is” and “isn’t” acceptable behavior in the world.

Question everything. Just like we question horrible things that are still permitted in societies, like animal abuse, female genital mutilation and honor killings, we should also question whether the things that we are raised to believe are unacceptable are actually so bad.

“If you end up with a boring miserable life because you listened to your mom, your dad, your teacher, your priest, or some guy on television telling you how to do your shit, then you deserve it.” – Frank Zappa

Set your principles. My personal rule is that if it – whatever it is – doesn’t harm you, or others, then it’s probably moral. Respect that basic rule and, with the occasional exception, the world is your oyster. Come up with your own rules that make sense to you.

“Never be bullied into silence. Never allow yourself to be made a victim. Accept no one’s definition of your life, but define yourself.” – Harvey Fierstein

We all go through times when we disagree with something, or someone, or some judgement, but we’re too scared to speak up because “other people” will react negatively. We’re afraid to be ourselves out of some fear that society will reject us for our differences. But who cares? If you step up to the challenge, you automatically win because you are claiming your right to live your life in your own image rather than the image of some rando. You become a real person.

“Be who you are and say what you feel, because those who mind don’t matter, and those who matter don’t mind.” – Bernard M. Baruch

Sometimes our fear of judgement is internalized and, even though we feel a certain way, we haven’t even understood it or admitted it to ourselves. And that’s okay. Life is a process. But once you get there, you’ll know that there is no better satisfaction in the world than the feeling of personal integrity. If you know what I’m talking about, great. If you don’t and you want to be helpful, simply treat all kinds of people with an open mind.

“Nothing could be easier than disturbing a status quo instituted by others; the real work of the sinister current is to break the rules we rigidly establish for ourselves.” – Zeena Schleck

Next time you feel like something is stopping you from being honest with the world, or yourself, about who you are or what you stand for, know you’re not alone. But don’t run away.

“If you think like others, how can you be sure you’re thinking at all?” – Daniel Delgado F

Instead, remember these inspiring quotes about the importance of being yourself and embracing your uniqueness:

1. “Imperfection is beauty, madness is genius and it’s better to be absolutely ridiculous than absolutely boring.”  – Marilyn Monroe



2. “I am not made like any of those I have seen. I venture to believe that I am not made like any of those who are in existence.”  – Jean Jacques Rousseau



3. “Be yourself – not your idea of what you think somebody else’s idea of yourself should be.”  – Henry David Thoreau



4. I would rather be hated for who I am than loved for who I am not.”  – Kurt Cobain



5. “It gives me great pleasure indeed to see the stubbornness of an incorrigible nonconformist warmly acclaimed.”  – Albert Einstein



6. “Don’t let the noise of other peoples’ opinions drown out your inner voice.”  – Steve Jobs



7. “You are not stuck where you are unless you decide to be.”  – Wayne W. Dyer



8. The worst loneliness is to not be comfortable with yourself.”  – Mark Twain



9. “There is nothing more rare, nor more beautiful, than a woman being unapologetically herself; comfortable in her perfect imperfection. To me, that is the true essence of beauty.”  – Steve Maraboli



10. “Always be a first rate version of yourself and not a second rate version of someone else.”  – Judy Garland

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11. “Wherever anyone is against his will, that is to him a prison.”  – Epictetus



12. “About all you can do in life is be who you are. Some people will love you for you. Most will love you for what you can do for them, and some won’t like you at all.”  – Rita Mae Brown



13. “A friend is someone who gives you total freedom to be yourself – and especially to feel, or not feel. Whatever you happen to be feeling at any moment is fine with them. That’s what real love amounts to – letting a person be what he really is.”  – Jim Morrison



14. “‎Do not allow people to dim your shine because they are blinded. Tell them to put on some sunglasses, cuz we were born this way, bitch!”  – Lady Gaga



15. “Rule your mind or it will rule you.”  – Horace



16. “Here’s to the crazy ones. The misfits. The rebels. The troublemakers. The round pegs in the square holes. The ones who see things differently. They’re not fond of rules. And they have no respect for the status quo. You can quote them, disagree with them, glorify or vilify them. About the only thing you can’t do is ignore them. Because they change things. They push the human race forward. And while some may see them as the crazy ones, we see genius. Because the people who are crazy enough to think they can change the world, are the ones who do.”  – Apple, Inc

Portrait of a boy with the map of the world painted on his face.