I received this story the other day while I was running and I wanted to share it just in case anyone else ever felt like they were “different”.
Everyone is familiar with the children’s story of the Ugly Duckling. In the story, by some act of fate, a swan egg gets mixed up in a nest of duck eggs and is born to a duck in the middle of a duck community. This swan grows up in the duck pond and always feels a little different, but can’t quite understand why. His mom and dad are both ducks, and his brothers and sisters are all ducks. The pond is full of families of ducks. Everyone in the community also realizes that this swan is a little different. His mother knows that even before he was born, his egg just didn’t look or feel like her other eggs. Of course she loved him like she loved all her other babies, and watched helplessly as he tried to be a duck. But deep inside she knew he was different. And he knew it too.
Not having any swans in the pond, no one realized that he was really a swan. That there was nothing wrong with him, that he was just being what he was. The swan inside of him longed to find others that were similar to him, but no one knew there were such things as swans, and if there were, where they were. So the swan grew up, feeling different, but hiding it, acting like a duck, even though everyone knew he was not a duck.
There is nothing in the story to indicate that there was anything wrong with being a duck or that there is anything wrong with being a swan. Swans are not better than ducks, and ducks are not better than swans. They are just different. But if a swan is born and grows up amongst ducks, he is always going to think there is something wrong with him. He just isn’t like all the other ducks.
Of course, in the children’s story the swan eventually wanders off into the woods and comes upon another pond that is inhabited by swans and learns that he is not ugly or different at all. He falls in love with a beautiful swan who thinks he is the most handsome swan she ever saw and lives happily ever after.
This story is not about anyone in particular, but I am sure that there are many of us, myself included, who have always felt a little different than everyone else. As a child, I felt different from everyone else. I never quite fit in. All the ducks around me were just being ducks, but I just never quite grasped the ability to fit in with the crowd. Even now, sometimes I just wonder, where are all the people who think like me? Why do I always think differently from everyone else?
Living in a duck pond has taught me that there is not a right or wrong way to think. There is not ugly and beautiful. Just because all the ducks in the pond think differently from me does not mean my way is wrong or that they are right, just different. And there is nothing I can do to make myself a duck. Now that I am older and I realize that I am a swan and I have met on occasion other swans, I know that I don’t need to try to be a duck. The ducks may never understand me, but hopefully we can all get along. Life would just be boring if I moved to a pond of swans. Then everyone would be like me and I would never learn acceptance of those different than me.
I am sure if you have not felt like a swan in a duck pond then you have met someone who was the swan in the duck pond. Take it from the swan, be tolerant. Be accepting. We can all learn to love and accept each other.