Today is the birthday of Henry David Thoreau (1817 - 1862), advocate of civil disobedience, father of environmentalism, philosopher of Walden Pond. When I was a teenager, I had a poster on my wall with one of Thoreau's most famous quotations from his book Walden --
If a man does not keep pace with his companions, perhaps it is because he hears a different drummer. Let him step to the music which he hears, however measured or far away.
I thought about this quotation a lot when I was young. I let it guide me, as if it granted me "permission" to be myself. It gave me reassurance that it's not necessary to be like everyone else, that it is okay to be unequivocally yourself. Taking this quotation to heart saved me a lot of heartache, I suspect, and a lot of wasted time trying to be someone I was not.
So thank you, Henry David Thoreau, and happy birthday!