I struggled in one of my English classes to please my teacher. My particular writing style did not fit “her” mold and style. She wanted me to write in simple, concise sentences and I couldn’t seem to deviate from the descriptive style I enjoyed. She had a bright, red streak in her hair from running ink dyed hands through it while grading papers. My father knew how disillusioning this English course was for me because he was aware of my love for writing. So…instead of lecturing me on how I needed to stick to her rules, he gave me a copy of a poem on individuality. I came away with an even more valuable life lesson. I gave myself permission to own my “own” style—not just in my writing technique, but in life in general, as well.
I am an individual with my own set of values, idiosyncrasies, beliefs and writing style that make me “me.” And you are “you.” This poem had such an impact on me with its valuable lesson about the importance of individuality that I framed it many years ago. It sits on my bedside table as a daily reminder of how important it is to be “who you are” and to allow others to “be who they are.”
The world is a difficult world indeed,
And the people are hard to suit,
And the man who plays on the violin
Is a bore to the man with a flute,
And I myself have often thought,
How very much better “twould be
If everyone of the folks that I know
Would only agree with me.
But since they will not, the very best way
To make the world look bright,
Is never mind what others say,
But do what YOU think is right.
–Light and Life Evangel
It is, therefore, important that we raise our children to be individuals—with their own sense of self and independence. When too many restrictions are enforced, it strips a child of their own uniqueness. They can potentially grow into adulthood and not have a clear perception of “who they are.” If they have always depended on a strict rule maker then they run the risk of not being able to develop their own individuality. They will spend costly time later on discovering themselves when the rule maker is out of the picture.
Dorothy Corkille Briggs beautifully states in her book, Your Child’s Self-Esteem, “When a child repeatedly feels that acceptance hinges on becoming a carbon copy of his parents and teachers, his uniqueness and safety are threatened. Too many times, the blueprint is “feel as I do to earn my love.” Letting a child “own” his feelings does not mean letting him do anything he wants. Each human being is a unique and unrepeatable event. Respect for separateness proves you care.”
Perhaps, your child does not like the taste of green beans. It’s the child’s choice to decide whether or not he’s a green bean lover. They should certainly be open to trying it, but the decision to like it or not is entirely up to them. They should have the choice.
I had a college friend who only ate French fries—nothing else. It seemed peculiar at first, but we all accepted her as the girl who loved French fries. It was “who she was.” (I heard that after college she learned to like pizza!)
Mrs. Briggs said, “allowing a child to own his personal feelings and reactions has a strong impact on their self-esteem. It permits them to say, “It’s all right to be me.” The child with this conviction doesn’t hide behind pretense, nor does he try to ram his perceptions down the throats of others. As a result, they get along better with people. A child’s viewpoint is as valid for him as yours is for you. You are your own person and your feelings are thoroughly yours.”
In summation, if you happen to be a green bean hating, violin playing, French fry loving individual who writes too descriptively, then that is just fine…It’s just being YOU! And that’s okay—actually, better than okay. Hunter Darden-order personalized copies of my books by scrolling to the top of the page and clicking the link or email me at firstname.lastname@example.org.