“Tell me, what is it you plan to do with your one wild and precious life?”
I don't try to fit in anymore.

I have always felt a little different from people around me. A bit shorter (OK, a lot shorter), not so good at ice hockey like every other Canadian kid (but not really that interested in playing either), and a family history spanning three very different continents, making it hard to answer the perennial question "where are you from?" And the list goes on.

These differences made me uncomfortable when I was young. I wanted so much to blend in and make up for what some tried to make me think were "deficiencies."

But my parents helped me discover that my differences were actually a source of strength. From playing a burdensome accordion to taking modern-art classes to ripping up the soccer field—they exposed me to everything so I could discover my talents, find out what made me unique, and be proud of it. While it turned out that accordion really wasn't up my alley, I still discovered my love for the stage and passion for music.

I learned to celebrate my differences and those of others. I now know that my differences help me to see the world from a new perspective and help me to appreciate things that others might not see.

So, I just want to be me. I want to make the world a place where diversity is celebrated, where what stands out is more important than what fits in.

— Imran Amed