Stand Out.

There is only one you. The sooner you lean into what makes your different, embrace the things that you are passionate about, find your tribe and take action -- things in your life will start to sparkle.

 
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I was an extremely sensitive kid and never had that many friends. That left me depressed and exposed to bullies at school. I tried fading into the background wearing my brothers Abercrombie and Fitch hand-me-downs hoping no one would notice how weird I was

Everything changed the summer after 7th grade after reading a book about something that had alway interested me -- Animals.  This book wasn't just facts and figures about animals but it was about what I could do as a young person to speak on their behalf. That book changed everything.

Instead of fitting in, I realized I had to stand out.

I went vegetarian and started an organization to help animals in zoos. Ambitious for a 12-year-old, but something that changed my life for the better -- forever.

There weren't too many vegetarians or animal rights activists in the suburbs I lived in, so I started looking for like-minded people and luckily I found them. I met adult activists who would become my mentors, the school librarian who ordered animals right books for me to read and the cafeteria lady who made sure there were veggie burgers on the lunch line.

Kids started noticing the go vegetarian bumper stickers on my binder and animal rights shirts I rocked. They started to get curious about my new cause. When the media started covering my work kids would come up to me and tell how cool it was I was on TV and in the newspaper and wanted to learn more about what I was doing. The bullies turned into fans and I slowly started building the confidence I never had.


The world needs YOU to embrace your “weirdness” and be proud of what makes you different. We need millions of unique, people who stand out, speak up when they witnessed injustices and bear down on solutions to create a better world for all

Justin Barker