You are aware that all Spartans were Greeks, right? But not all Greeks were Spartans. Whenever you hear the word “Greek” you probably think about vase paintings, or cool stories about gods and monsters, or music, or Olympic games, or art and fancy stuff in general. When you hear the word “Spartan”, none of that comes to mind.
The reason for this is the Spartans made an effort to separate themselves from the rest of the world in the way they lived. They may have been surrounded by other Greeks, but they were far, far different. That is why when referring to non-Spartan Greeks, we say “the Greeks”. We we refer to all Greeks, we must say “Greeks and Spartans”.
We should separate ourselves in a similar manner. We may live in a world filled with normal people, they may be our friends and family, but we should live, act, and be so different that we are not associated with everyone else as equals, like the Spartans. The Spartans were almost a different world, a completely different culture.
Each one of us has the choice to be different then everyone else. We each have a choice to be a “Spartan” in a world of “Greeks”. When a stranger sees you, make it impossible for them to associate you with normal people. Stand out.
Standing out that much can take awhile, and it can hurt. At first you may be mocked or discriminated against. Take it.
People may think you’re weird and might avoid you, or have trouble knowing what to do with you. Take it. They’re just like any other “Greek”. You’re not.
You may be the only one lifting so hard and heavy in the gym that when you’re done all you can do is collapse (I’ve done that). You might skip Thanksgiving dinner because you’ve eaten too much food recently and your body needs a break (done that too). You may take cold showers all year long, even in winter (a word of experience: start the water warm BEFORE you turn it to cold!).
Whatever it may be, do it. Own who you are in order to become the best you can be. If you pick a style of clothes, music, or whatever, own your choice in such a way that no one will question it. There was a time when the other Greeks would cut their hair shorter for easier maintenance and additional safety while in war. At this same time, the Spartans let their hair grow out long, even if it meant more danger in battle.
Another example is of the tortoise and the hare. Heard that one? In this old story, the tortoise owned who he was, even though he was slow and he withstood mockery from the hare, and eventually won the race he was challenged to.
Or of course what the Spartans may be most famous for, the battle of Thermopylae. Leonidas and his 300 Spartans leading approximately 7,000 Greeks total against a force I’ve heard might have been anywhere from 100,000 to 800,000 Persians (the more reasonable estimates). The Spartans owned who they were so well, that they drove the Persians to a dead stop, until they were betrayed by a normal Greek. They may have lost that battle, but it left such an impression on the Persians that when the Persian army later encountered an army of 10,000 Spartans, they just gave up. The lines never even met!
So choose to stand out. It may be hard, you may lose a few “battles” at first, but if you stick to it no one will question you, and all will respect you.
We live in a world of normal people. In a world of “Greeks”. Will you be a Spartan?