The most exhausting person you should never be.

Want to wear yourself out this year?

Want to be miserable?

Want to hate 2014 more than 2013?

Be someone other than yourself. That is easily the most exhausting person you can be. Trust me, I’ve tried. Whether you’re faking it to hide some mistake from the past or faking it to gain some sort of affirmation from the people around you, it’s a horrible way to go through life. As someone smarter than me whose name I have forgotten once said, only dead fish go with the flow.

The alive ones? The ones who refuse to conform? The ones who dare to be themselves? They swim against the stream. They rage. And sometimes, they do something as simple as smile.

That’s what this brave kid did.

Be You

What I love about this photo is the irony. Here’s a whole group of people trying to stand out. To be individualists. We’re edgy! We’re different! And yet, they are all wearing the same exact Hot Topic frown.

Except for one daring soul! He must smile! He was born to smile! Does that make him unusual? Sure, but being yourself should be unusual because no one’s ever been it.

Be you.

Stand out.

And if the moment strikes, smile!


  • Nick
    Posted at 04:18h, 08 January Reply

    Ha! I love it.

    It’s pretty incredible. So many people think they’ll be more comfortable conforming. Then when they finally decide to be themselves they inevitably can’t stop talking about how much more comfortable they are when they stopped trying to be something they’re not.

    I’ve done it too. I can’t tell you how awesome it feels to be myself in ways I had never done before.

  • LarryTheDeuce
    Posted at 04:28h, 08 January Reply

    I’ve run into a bit of this lately. People want me to conform on one particular issue. I’m just going to be me. People will vilify you, but you just have to be happy with what you believe.

  • Dustin Petersen
    Posted at 04:30h, 08 January Reply

    It’s nice to see some young people don’t care what the mannequins in the store or the ones in school are wearing.

    • Dustin Petersen
      Posted at 04:34h, 08 January Reply

      I should have thought to add this before I posted that comment:

      I wasn’t that person. I desperately tried to fit in with the popular crowd—without success. I wanted to be something I wasn’t instead of embracing who I was, and I probably overlooked a lot of awesome people in my graduating class.

      If I could have a do-over, that’s what I would do differently. Then again, that’s what makes learning experiences so valuable. They only mean something if it’s something you learned. How many teens care when old people over 25 “suggest” anything that might help them?

  • Eileen
    Posted at 05:57h, 08 January Reply

    Great reminder! I just wrote about how, for years, I tried to be someone I was not. Didn’t go so well for me. I also never felt more like I was living in some sort of prison when I lived that way too. Love that being ourselves brings so much freedom and peace!

  • ThatGuyKC
    Posted at 06:09h, 08 January Reply

    YES! Many people seem to try so hard to be different they turn out like everyone else. Thanks for the reminder to be true and authentic.

  • JD Dargai
    Posted at 07:04h, 08 January Reply

    Haha this is great! Seems to me that he chose delight.

  • David Johnston
    Posted at 07:48h, 08 January Reply

    Yes! That guy is awesome! I used to go to hardcore shows and it was always funny to see everyone dress the same, look the same, and act the same.

  • Ian
    Posted at 07:55h, 08 January Reply

    Great resolution for the new year.

    The smart g guy you were quoting was B.C. Chesterton.

  • Ian
    Posted at 07:57h, 08 January Reply

    G. K. Chesterton. Stupid auto correct.

  • David Mike
    Posted at 09:30h, 08 January Reply

    I can relate. As a high school student in Germany, 1987, my top 4 bands were: Depeche Mode, The Cure, New Order and The Smiths. I discovered the New Wave / Goth hair clothing and music. It seemed as if I belonged and this was the real me. The angst and oh yes the bangs, the ones that say you can look into my soul but only through one eye. Eventually I became an Instructor at a Cosmetology school. I have toned down the image, because my own children don’t care about any statement I might make. I do smile but, with my Doc Marten’s on and my O gage earrings in that I bought at Hot Topic! There are some incriminating photos, somewhere in my blog. Click on my name and search for them if you dare….

  • Matt McWilliams
    Posted at 09:31h, 08 January Reply

    If you had to pick one of them who will end up owning his own business, employing hundreds of others, and be a deca-millionaire philanthropist, which one would it be?

    Yeah, it’s that guy.

  • Paul Pennington
    Posted at 09:37h, 08 January Reply

    Ditto! The biggest thing you can do to stand out in the crowd today is to be positive and smile. Be the light in the dark.

  • Teri
    Posted at 10:50h, 08 January Reply

    Love that photo!

  • Mandy Cave
    Posted at 13:11h, 08 January Reply

    Hahaha this is awesome. How in the world did you stumble on that perfectly appropriate photo?

  • Megan Webb
    Posted at 13:18h, 08 January Reply

    this photo is pure gold.

  • Natalie
    Posted at 13:42h, 08 January Reply

    I feel like you’re reading my mind with this post 🙂 I think a lot about being unique. My 4 year old son has Down syndrome, and he doesn’t have a choice to be unique or not, everything about him is unique. Sometimes I catch myself worrying about what kids will do or say to him as he gets older. I hope his life will give inspiration to others so that they might swim against the flow too!

  • melody
    Posted at 15:16h, 08 January Reply

    oh man does this hit home. especially this week!
    love Oscar Wilde’s quote “Be YOURSELF – everyone else is already taken.”
    seriously just wrote about this a couple days ago re: confidence and whatnot
    Always such a fan of your work Jon! 🙂

  • JP
    Posted at 16:15h, 08 January Reply

    What a refreshing reminder for the new year!!

  • Steve II
    Posted at 16:52h, 08 January Reply

    Love the dude on the left! Other then the fact that my friends didn’t look like his…(they were a little more of the band nerd type) that was me. Accidentally non-conformist. LOL. I think I spent too many years after HS trying to make resolutions and be a better person. Turns out God likes the me he created…and that has made for a much happier life. OH and my kids think Im amazing just the way I am too. Funny how that works. God and your kids both adore you while you’re trying to make yourself better. HA

  • Gisel
    Posted at 19:24h, 08 January Reply

    Incredible post!

  • Lady Tam
    Posted at 23:08h, 08 January Reply

    I was once told that I have a weird camera smile. Then I was told by someone else I have a really good one.

    To smile or not to smile, that is the question.

  • SynCallio
    Posted at 07:01h, 09 January Reply

    Makes me think of what C.S. Lewis said, how if we try to be original in what we say, we’ll fail; but if we seek to tell the truth, we’ll wind up being original.

    There are far too many people who are terrified to be themselves, who are afraid to take off the mask they’ve made, even though that mask is killing them.

  • Ashleigh
    Posted at 08:40h, 09 January Reply

    While I agree that this is a cool photo and that kid is awesome (I mean, is there anyone else in that picture you would strike up a conversation with on the bus?) I don’t think it’s because they’re trying to stand out or be edgy at all. Adolescence is really hard and the goal of 98% of middle and high school aged kids is to fit in somewhere- anywhere! They’re just trying to get through the day without drawing attention to themselves for being different because unfortunately that is a great way to get singled out and picked on and not many kids, or even adults, are equipped to deal with that. Confidence is key!

  • Nadine James
    Posted at 08:46h, 09 January Reply

    Very true and cool! Im going to show my kids this! 😉

  • Lisa
    Posted at 08:50h, 09 January Reply


  • Greg
    Posted at 09:00h, 09 January Reply

    Also, funny that all of those trying to stand out are really blending together into a uniform non-conformist group.

    His smile made me smile.

  • Dustin
    Posted at 12:15h, 09 January Reply

    Ah, the teenage years—expressing one’s individuality through conformity.

    Except for the kid on the left. He’s awesome.

  • jason
    Posted at 17:19h, 09 January Reply


  • Chloe of beyond blessed blog
    Posted at 10:53h, 10 January Reply

    LOVE this! Thanks for the remind Jon!

  • Marni Arnold
    Posted at 21:44h, 10 January Reply

    Coming from where I do, this past year has been the sowing process for me to truly live out being me without any pressures for me to be anything other than me. The only pressures will come from me…and this is my focus for the year: to nix unhealthy expectations of myself that come from voices of the past. Not an easy journey, but being yourself never is when you break the conformity and seek to truly be the square peg that doesn’t try to fit into any hole – even square ones, But it sure is easier than trying to even find the square holes to fit into. 🙂

    Here’s to being who God made us to be!

  • JT Adamson
    Posted at 21:12h, 14 January Reply

    Next drivers license renewal, I’m on it!

  • Chris Kiger
    Posted at 13:38h, 15 January Reply

    I did this last year but not on purpose. I get to coach High School baseball. We had team pictures one day. Everyone had that game face, stern, I’m tough, look on their face. Not me. Again, I didn’t smile to be different, I smiled because that’s more me than having that tough look on my face. So, if you look in the program, you’ll see all these coaches with serious looks on their faces and then me, smiling.

  • David Costa
    Posted at 15:59h, 17 January Reply

    “Don’t dare to be different, dare to be yourself – if that doesn’t make you different then something is wrong.”
    ― Laura Baker

    It is a confusing dance we perform when we either ‘try’ to be different or ‘try’ to fit in. Both lead to the same exact spot, conforming to what others consider normal or novel. It is a different side of the same coin. That’s why it is so hard to be one’s true self. Often that ‘true self’ is stumbled upon. Often, self-realization comes in like a tornado, and then promptly leaves just as fast. The trick is to embrace the way you’ve changed over time, to acknowledge that, while one day you might be that smiling kid in the photo, the next you may rejoin the frowning-kid clique.

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