TED's 31 days of Ideas - Day 13: The value of not being "normal"

The value of not being "normal"

By Emilie Wapnick

On some level, we all want to be normal. We all want to belong. Yet most of us feel that one or many parts of us are disastrously different.

Visual artist Safwat Saleem has always had a conspicuous voice. His voice lends his work its substance and makes his difference visible. He gets a lot of criticism for his voice.

I fell in love with Safwat's talk, "Why I keep speaking up, even when people mock my accent," because it reminded me that normalcy isn't about reality. It's about peoples' expectations. Safwat insists that there is value in not being normal and in broadcasting that fact. Challenging expectations, even when it exposes our most vulnerable parts, can create change.

As I was watched this talk, I thought about all the little stands people take every day. What are the things you feel like you should hide? What's really at stake when you accept the constraints of normalcy and let them shape what you offer to the world? The world needs what is uniquely, authentically you -- now, more than ever.