I have always seen myself as an underdog, black sheep, and rebel. Even before I understood what these words truly meant, I knew that I was different from my peers.
I guess everyone feels different in some way from everyone else. It would be impossible to experience the world in any other way since each of us is unique yet so similar.
What defines an underdog, black sheep, and rebel from most other people are their unique experiences and the way they conduct their lives. This usually means that they go outside of traditional social norms.
When it comes to ventures outside of social norms, there is, of course, a fine line between what actions are constructive and destructive. This is where these people often get into trouble.
The flip side is that people with highly unusual early life experiences and a propensity for challenging social boundaries often have superior intellect and creativity. If you identify with one or more of these labels, is this not true for you?
If you look at the great achievers throughout history, which ones would you identify as being an underdog, black sheep, and/or rebel? If you have some knowledge about the backgrounds of great men and women throughout history, you recognize that many of them share one or more of these characteristics.
Mozart wasn’t a conformist. He didn’t follow the traditions of composing or the conventional lifestyle of a composer for that period if the movie about his life “Amadeus” is correct. Michelangelo was a total rebel and idealist if the movie about his life “The Agony and the Ecstasy” is accurate.
Often people who do “not” conform to the traditions of their family, neighborhood, school, or country while they are growing up and/or as adults, are met with ridicule, exclusion, and punishment. In some countries, this punishment can be severe. Sometimes it can mean mutilation or even death.
I am not talking about people who act out in negative ways that hurt people or damage property. And I am not talking about negative self-expression in a person’s appearance in order to shock rather than just being who they truly are.
Individuals who choose this path are not choosing but rather following. A gang member is not truly a rebel if he must commit himself to the negative practices and rules of the gang or face severe retribution. The only male and female leaders who have truly succeeded throughout history are those that have positive principles and objectives that serve other people.
So what are the benefits of being an underdog, black sheep, and/or rebel? To put it simply, they frequently excel in their ability to enjoy life, succeed, produce, give, and love. Who do you think would be a better lover? The person who closely follows the so-called moral or religious rules s/he learned as a child? Or the person who analyzes the rules and seeks education and progress over strict traditions.
Many people, including myself at one point, associate being an underdog, black sheep, or rebel to being a failure in life. Or at least being predisposed to it. Because of the negative associations society places on these labels, it’s easy to feel that way. But now you know better. There is an equal amount of advantages and disadvantages to being one or more of these things. It all comes down to choice and point of view.
Are you going choose to look at being an underdog, black sheep, or rebel as an advantage and strength? You should because each of these characteristics has the potential to propel you to achieve extraordinary things in your life.
When I was sitting in a jail cell at the age of 15, I couldn’t escape seeing myself as an underdog, black sheep, and rebel who was destined for failure. It took quite awhile to break away from those self-defeating attitudes and turn my life around. I began the transition by doing push-ups in my cell every day. Later I added reading self-improvement books and journaling to my cell time activities. I went on to a boys’ home where I attained the most coveted position and graduated with a small scholarship for college. There were a few bumps along the way, but I just kept moving toward my goals.
The odds of a person being successful after being incarcerated for an extended amount of time at a young age are extremely rare. Fortunately, I was one of the rare ones. Today I look back with a sense of pride on that experience and on being an underdog, black sheep, and rebel.
Advice for Parents with Underdog, Black Sheep, or Rebel Sons
If you have a teenage son who is being incorrigible and it is not due to serious drug or criminal problems, I have this advice. Give him firm guidelines, but also give him your unconditional love, support, and full attention in the form of just listening! Then let go, relax, and allow his transition from boyhood to manhood to take its course.
Avoid getting a psychologist or psychiatrist involved. If you do, do not blindly follow their directives without investigating alternatives. Do not put him on any medications unless you are sure he has a serious mental illness. Do not “ever” be the one who puts him in jail or juvenile hall. Placing him in a boys’ home can produce positive results, but only do it as a last resort.
Read this article, Incorrigible Boy Successful Man, for complete details on my story and more advice.