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Nathaniel Lambert Ph.D.
Nathaniel Lambert Ph.D.

The Many Advantages of Being Different

Real responses from real people about the perks of standing out in various ways.

It’s easy to stay focused on the negative aspects of being different. Thinking of the negatives about your situation is the natural response. However, dwelling on the negative is usually harmful to your mental health and well-being. Instead, try to see the positives of being different and focus on these things; you’ll notice a drastic difference in your outlook on life.

In this post we will discuss many of the advantages of being different mentioned by those whom we interviewed with a variety of differences. I asked everyone in the study to list several benefits of being different and I chose the most frequently mentioned elements for each category. I list just a few of the benefits from each category here in this post, but you can read the full lists in my new book, Standing Up for Standing Out. Let’s start with the one closest to my heart: being a short male. If you are tall, you may want to skip this section just like the short people may want to skip the section for tall people. Again, these replies are taken verbatim from interviews with people in each category.

Advantages of Being a Short Male

  • "People feel less threatened by me."

  • "Legroom on an airplane or bus is never a problem for me."
  • "I never have to worry about hitting my head on things like chandeliers."
  • "I often look younger (which becomes an especially good thing as I age)."

Advantages of Being a Tall Woman

  • "I have athletic advantages."
  • "I can see over the heads of many other people in a crowd."
  • "I stand out."
  • "I can walk faster because I have longer legs."

Advantages of Being a Different Race/Ethnicity

  • "It’s great to feel unique in a homogenous society."
  • "It’s great to have tan skin."
  • "I can connect with people who speak my language."
  • "I stand out in a crowd."

Advantages of Being from a Different Culture

  • "I enjoy the best of both cultures freely."
  • "I feel a strong support group from people of my culture."
  • "I can help others who do not speak English."
  • "Speaking another language gives me a competitive advantage in the workplace."

Advantages of Being Underweight

  • "I can fit into clothes in the kids section and the junior's department, which doubles my selection!"
  • "Weighing less makes it easier to participate in sports and physical activities."
  • "I can fit through narrow spaces."
  • "I can stick my arm down the sink to get stuff out of the garbage disposal."

Advantages of Being Overweight

  • "More to love!"
  • "People view me as being loveable."
  • "People like me to give them tight hugs."
  • "People view me as a protector."

The rest of this post has now been published in my book Standing up for Standing Out: Making the most of Being Different in Kindle or hard copy.The book includes experiences from 74 people I interviewed who share their struggles and coping strategies on the topics of relationships, belonging, standing out, self-acceptance, working against labels, gaining understanding and compassion, and personal growth. Check it out!

About the Author
Nathaniel Lambert Ph.D.

Nathaniel Lambert, Ph.D., is a psychology professor at the University of Utah.

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