Be Different, Happily

by | Apr 29, 2015 | Commentary | 4 comments

Pharrell Williams seems to have reached an interesting space in life. His work as a producer and musician has allowed him to venture deep into a range of diverse projects in ways that most of us wouldn’t be able to. Like many others, I am fascinated by his life’s trajectory but more so by the projects he gets involved in, most under the banner – i am OTHER. It is defined as follows: “i am OTHER, created by Pharrell Williams, is a creative venture and way of life. We are proud to be different and believe that individuality is the new wealth. This shared philosophy flows through each pillar within the company: music, film, television, apparel, tech and multimedia.”

“If only I’d known my differentness would be an asset, then my earlier life would have been much easier.” – Bette Midler

Have you ever felt like you didn’t belong? I have spent a lifetime feeling like an insider and an outsider simultaneously. I have been part of collectives, in different forms, whether it is family, friends, sports teams, etc but have often felt like an outsider. I have habitually found myself participating in something or submerged in the ‘madding crowd’ and, simultaneously watching it. Or spent time standing around the edges, looking in. Being different has often been seen as a negative but I have been fortunate to grow into the belief that there’s nothing wrong with being different.

“I would prove to you that being different isn’t a death sentence but a call to arms.” – Jodi Picoult

It is always much easier said than done when it comes to being comfortable with self. There are so many things pushing and pulling that it is a wonder that any of us finds the balance. When you are considered an outsider, words like crazy, strange and, if you are wealthy, eccentric are often used. It doesn’t have to be that way. Embrace that which makes you unique and allow that to be the vehicle through which you bring your own perspective and understanding to everything you interact with.

Be other, with peace of mind.

4 Comments

  1. 'Matheko Moshoeshoe

    It’s amazing how often people feel the need to fit in and yes it’s true that being your true is often taken is being weird and all that. Pharell just exudes something different to most and in a non overbearing way. I’ve always been one of those who have been referred to as weird etc. cause I learnt to enjoy me and realise I was different early on but also cause my mom taught and always reminded me that “I am unique and no one is like me and none will ever be” and I tried to live by that code. I wrote it every way, my school bag, note books, had it on the wall next to my bed in boarding (can imagine the teasing and comments), I recited it so many times that it just became part of me and being with myself has always been easy. Showing up at a club, movie house, park, concert could be done and yeah plenty times and with the society that we live in most saw and still see it as being lonely and alone, now with a family of my own we do things together but there are those times where being with me needs to happen now and again.
    Yes I’ve been in sports teams, work, done this and that with others which would be considered normal but is it really 🙂 ..
    Great piece as always Kojo….

  2. Kojo Baffoe

    Thanks for sharing ‘Matheko. Reading a book about introversion in a world that is constantly talking and engaging.

  3. Cyril Naicker

    I love this post Kojo – thank you for sharing. It is something beautiful to know that what sets us apart, which some may call weird is truly what defines us.

  4. Kojo Baffoe

    Thank you for taking the time to read it Cyril

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About Kojo Baffoe

Of Ghanaian/German heritage, raised in Lesotho and currently based in Johannesburg, South Africa, Kojo is the proverbial slashie, the professional ‘jack of all trades.’ He is an entrepreneur, writer, facilitator, content architect, former men’s magazine editor and speaker. He has a Bachelor of Commerce (1994) with majors in Economics, Marketing and Business Administration from the former the University of Natal (Durban), now University of KwaZulu-Natal.

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