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It’s Okay to Be Different (& Other Lessons I Learned from Playing the Recorder)

Most people play an instrument at some point in their childhood. For many, it is the recorder. As a child, I too started with that instrument. Except, unlike most, I didn’t stop there. For more than ten years I took lessons. For the recorder.

From the moment I first learned where to place my fingers for the “C”, I decided that this would be my instrument. I learned to play both “C” and “F” recorders. I played in orchestras, trios, quartets – you name it. I am among the few who stuck with the instrument.

When people hear that, they are confused. Maybe you too are asking questions such as, “You … play the recorder?” “You didn’t switch to the clarinet or piano after two years?” “Isn’t that too easy an instrument, to still be learning new things after ten years?”

As you can probably imagine, the looks and questions drove me crazy at times. This is by far not the only situation, though, in which I can find myself being the odd-one-out.

Maybe you can relate. Maybe you too have felt left-out or less-than because you are different. Different from the norm. Different to what society expects from you. It was only a short while ago that I realized how my music situation applies to greater and more complex areas of life as well.

Here are some simple lessons I learned from – and remember in – those odd-one-out situations, whether those are simple or complex.

1. It’s Okay to Be Different.

Funny how we mess up the meaning of words sometimes. “Different” is one of those. Too often, we assume that different means less-than. That is a lie.

Different does not mean less valuable. Different means different. And different is okay. In fact, it is more than that. It can be good.

As one of my primary school teachers often pointed out: “Imagine we’d all be the same. Imagine we all had the same strengths and weaknesses. Wouldn’t the world be a boring place?”

2. You Are Not the Only One.

Have you ever felt like you are the only one on the planet who feels like the odd-one-out? I have. Those situations in which I theoretically know that there are others with the same struggle, but this knowledge doesn’t seem real.

A few years ago, I was part of a recorder orchestra project. Suddenly I was in a room with 25 other teens and young adults, who play the same instrument I do. People, who also struggle with creating music that is not good enough for society. That was a real eye-opener for me.

There is something so very comforting about knowing you are not the only one. There are other people who are struggling too. No one is in the exact same situation you are, but someone is in a similar one. Someone can relate. You are never alone.

3. Being Different Is Not a Good Enough Reason for Giving Up.

If you are different, people will tell you that you should try to conform to the norm. They will tell you that you should stop being a certain way, or stop doing a certain thing, in order to fit in.

There were so many times I wanted to stop playing the recorder and start playing a “normal” instrument, such as the piano.

Here’s the truth: Don’t change anything because you are “different”. That is not a good enough reason. Yes, sometimes it is good to change things about ourselves and what we do. But not wanting to be different anymore should not be the reason.

4. People Will Not Understand You … and That’s Okay.

My instrument is not the violin, or the guitar. It’s the recorder. The one that many don’t even see as a “real” instrument. But that’s okay.

It doesn’t matter if they don’t understand me because ultimately, people do not have to understand. God understands. And that should always be enough for me.

And talking of the recorder, a Telemann Sonata has been staring at me, waiting to be practiced. I’d better go and reward its patience.

In what situations have you felt different from others? What have you learned from those situations? In what way can being different be good at times?

Comment below, Roses, and let’s uplift each other!

Article Written By

Sarah Susanna Rhomberg, author of "It’s Okay to Be Different (& Other Lessons I Learned from Playing the Recorder)"
Sarah Susanna Rhomberg

Sarah Susanna Rhomberg lives in Europe and is fluent in both English and German. When not writing, you will often find her reading (always with a mug of herbal tea at hand) or going
for walks. Sarah wants to live her life for Christ and writes to glorify Him. Connect with her through her email list here.

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