ep.008 What Makes You Unique

Today we’re going to start with an activity. First I’m going to sing a note and I want you to sing it with me, the same pitch, and hold that note. Here’s your note: ahhhhhhh? Ready? ahhhhhhh.

Well done! Okay, now for part two: you’re going to sing a different note, and I’ll sing the same note. Here’s your note: Ahhhhhhh. Got it? Now let’s sing our notes together. Ready? Ahhhhhhh.

Lovely! Now the final challenge: you’re going to sing another different note, and I’ll sing the first two notes. Here’s your note: AHHHH. Got it? Now let’s sing all of our different notes together. Ready? AHHHH.

Wow! Did you hear that? We started out with the same note and then we created harmony together! Now which did you prefer, singing the same note in unison or singing harmony? Personally I prefer harmony — when I write music I love to put together chords using different notes. To me, singing in unison sounds two-dimensional, kinda boring. Singing harmony is like 3D, it sounds rich and full and beautiful!

Did you know, you cannot make harmony using the same note? To create harmony the notes must be different.

So girls, I want to focus on what makes us unique or different from each other. Think about it for a moment, what kinds of things, what characteristics, make us individuals? How about our interests and hobbies, our personalities, our likes/dislikes, our body shapes and height, our features like hair color, skin color, eye color; our style, our opinions, our strengths and talents, our beliefs, values, and religion; our heritage and our ancestry.

All of these different things are part of you who you are, your unique identity. They’re what set you apart, they make everyone different. And that’s a good thing!

Your note is different, and we need everyone’s different notes to make harmony in our world.

Think about it, if you sat down at a piano and kept playing the same exact note over and over, it wouldn’t be very interesting, it would sound repetitive and monotonous. Or if every girl at your school wore identically matching outfits and had the same exact hair color and hairstyle, took the same classes, ate the same thing for lunch, gave the same answers, and were a Copy + Paste version of everyone else, like clones, how unoriginal would that be!

Now I understand wanting to fit in. I experienced that when I was your age, and sometimes I do even as an adult. Right before I started 6th grade, my family moved to a different state and I didn’t know anyone. Slowly I made friends, but I also changed myself to be more like other girls. I thought, if they see I’m like them, maybe they’ll like me more and accept me into their group. I changed my style, my hobbies, the way I talked, and even how I laughed. I was trying to be someone else, a girl other than myself.

But still I felt like a puzzle piece that didn’t fit; or a square peg among round holes. It took me a few years to figure out what was authentically uniquely me. I began to let go of wanting to blend in. My unique qualities made me stand out, so I started embracing them. As I was truer to myself, something amazing happened. I formed genuine friendships with girls who were different than me, who looked different and who had different interests. They understood and accepted my uniqueness and liked me for me! And I felt the same for them. 

“Why fit in when you were born to stand out?”
Author Jerry Spinelli

Girls, you are the ONLY you on this planet, and in the history of anyone who has ever lived or will live in the future! The things about you that make you different add variety to your family and friends, your community, and the whole world. The more we understand our uniqueness, by embracing who we are and accepting what makes us different, and by recognizing and respecting others for their differences, the more love we will feel for ourselves and for others, and the more we can make a difference in the world because of our differences.

We need to talk about a woman who is making a difference. She’s making history — in fact, some call it HERstory. On January 20, 2021, Kamala Devi Harris was sworn in as the 49th Vice President of the United States of America. This is a HUGE milestone for American girls and women! All of the 48 Vice Presidents before her were men, and all of those men were white except one nearly 100 years ago, Charles Curtis, who had Native American ancestry. Now, we have the first woman, the first Black American, and the first South Asian American serving as our Vice President. I am pointing these out details, these differences, because it’s important to recognize them. What she has done and is doing now, while being different than those before her, matters. Girls today can look up to Vice President Harris, see her example, and be inspired to go after their goals and follow in her footsteps to be leaders making a difference because they are different!

Our differences make us unique; they teach us about each other, they help us understand one another, and they enable us to practice empathy and compassion, like we discussed in episode 007.

I’ve touched on a couple of tools for understanding our uniqueness, so I want to name them specifically.

  • embrace what makes you different
  • recognize and respect what makes others different

Girls, what makes you unique is wonderful. Your differences can be your strengths that make a difference. Be YOUnique, together our harmony is BeYOUtiful.

To help you remember all this, I created a “YOUnique” poster for you to print out, personalize, and post on your wall where you’ll see it, remember it, practice it, and believe it — that’s the important part. Around the quote, write the things that make you unique, the different characteristics that make you stand out.

Here are several of my favorite books that illustrate this:
Not Quite Narwahl, by Jessie Sima
Chrysanthemum, by Kevin Henkes
Matilda, by Roald Dahl
Rosie Revere, Engineer, by Andrea Beaty
The Missing Piece, by Shel Silverstein
I’m Gonna Like Me, by Jamie Lee Curtis and Laura Cornell

Movies that explore this are “Trolls World Tour,” “Monsters University,” “Ferdinand,” and “Akeelah and the Bee.”

If you have favorite books or movies to add, I’d love to hear from you! Ask your parent’s permission to share your favs by sending an email to [email protected].

Share these cards with someone who needs some kindness, encouragement, empathy, support, or a reminder that someone cares.

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