We Are All Unique
I think I found Bill’s “grain of sand” talk even more comforting than the “garden variety drunk” one. This was probably because even though it was helpful to hear that other people’s problems echoed my own, I often still felt alone with a lot of my angst. Finding a place to talk honestly about it saved my life, I haven’t a doubt, but it wasn’t enough to bring me totally out of my isolation. So it was really, really good to hear that as ordinary as my problems were, they were also unique. If not for that message, I don’t know that I could have gotten past my shame and continued reaching out for help. I felt so “different” so much of the time. To a large extent, I still do.
That’s because I am different–as is everybody. Even though we all have basically the same wants, needs, desires, and fears that impel us through life, we each have a unique personal history that causes us to see the world differently than everybody else on the planet. Because of this, we each chase our wants, quell our fears, and express ourselves in individual ways.
This may seem obvious, and I suppose it is, but it’s important to think about for a few reasons. One is that, no matter how strong the pull to belong is, we will always have unique attributes that make us feel at least somewhat different. There is no way to feel totally connected to a group or even to another individual. We must learn to be content with partial connections in every walk of life. Such partial connections can be very comprehensive and also very satisfying, but all the more so if we understand it to be the case and don’t expect otherwise. When people are confused about this, they can seek unrealistic, unhealthy bonds or delude themselves into thinking they have something they don’t. This has been labeled various things, including codependence, fusion, and true believerism. Each is a way people try to avoid the sense of isolation that comes with uniqueness. It’s a futile struggle, and a tragic one, too, because trying not to feel different is a distraction from coming to terms with our unavoidable human condition.
Also, embracing our uniqueness fosters tolerance. When we understand that we’re all looking for the same basic things but we’re all looking for them in unique ways–and some have more effective tools than others–it’s easier to be patient with the differences existing among people, particularly in this age of multiculturalism and plurality, where people of all ethnicities, religions, and political belief systems are together in one big melting pot (called a “city”). Without an appreciation for each other’s uniqueness, all sorts of violence can–and does–occur. This too, is the result of a tragic misunderstanding of the human condition: of our common sameness and our common uniqueness.
It’s good, in fact, it’s wonderful that we’re all unique! One way to define creativity is as a unique expression of a person’s individuality. Because of our uniqueness, everybody has a distinct voice, and creativity is the expression of that voice. All art arises from a person’s unique view of the world. And where would we be without art, which is the very celebration of our uniqueness? Thankfully, it’s impossible to imagine. But if we weren’t unique, each with a special way of seeing and a special creativity to contribute, there would be no art, no music, no literature–nothing that makes life transcendent and beautiful and sacred. So in a very real way, you could say that uniqueness is the innate human quality that makes life worth living.
I believe this to be true, as did the Founding Fathers. Our constitutional freedoms are based on the inalienable right to pursue life, liberty and happiness in the best ways we see fit. Such a view was revolutionary in human history, and resulted in the freest, most prosperous nation to ever exist. Individual freedom, creativity, and the precious nature of our uniqueness fit together to provide the basic components of human dignity. The evidence is all around us.
We are all much the same at our core, but we all pursue our similar wants and needs in unique ways. Being comfortable with our “differentness” is crucial to discovering and following our bliss. And really, what else is there? So embrace your uniqueness if you haven’t done so already, and discover what special and wonderful contribution you have to make. I promise you it’s there, waiting for you to find it.
Categorised as: Authenticity