For most of my life, I’ve spent my time trying to be unique. Trying to be unlike everyone else and special in my own way.
I blame this on my mother. She used to tell me that I was special and the way I thought about stuff was unique. (Still not sure if she’s right)
My desire to be unique has made a lot of things hard for me. I’ve found myself struggling to fit in with many different groups throughout school and throughout social circles. It even made it hard to relate to my own family at times.
After a short while got used to it and decided that I liked it. The more I isolated myself, the more I allowed myself to be unique. This was great! I was so unique that I didn’t even gel with my own family.
Being the youngest of 3 kids (two older sisters), I found myself being introduced as – this person’s brother or so and so’s son. That started to piss me off. Apparently, I wasn’t special enough to be considered my own person. I had to be associated with one of my family members before I was considered important enough to talk to. This was the belief I started to develop.
So where did that lead me? Well, it pissed me off enough to go and isolate myself from anyone I was considered to be remotely similar to. And whenever someone said “oh you do that just like [insert name here]”, I found myself getting defensive and explaining how unlike that person I actually was.
It frustrated me and I started getting used to isolating myself and doing what I could to be like no one else. In my mind anyway.
What I didn’t realise, until I became self-aware, was that by pushing myself away from others I was creating my own heartbreaking reality.
I believed that being unique = being alone and isolated. Being unique meant I could be me and that was a good thing. The problem was that I was experiencing the downside of that reality.
It was making my life harder. I was finding it hard to relate to people, I began to feel people didn’t understand me and during my 4-year depression in my early 20s, I honestly thought that there was no way to change that.
Where things changed for me was when I woke up to the fact that I can be unique while being the same as so many people. Being similar to others means that you can relate. There’s something you can share with another person and through being able to relate, people naturally have a tendency to open up to you.
Being unique doesn’t mean emotionally or physically isolating yourself. It means honouring who you are, the way you think about life and the way you do life while you’re spending time and interacting with people.
The truth is, no one but you will stop you from being unique. If you’re spending time with like-minded people then it can be hard to feel unique and different. Don’t change in spite of that. That’s when you’ll stop being unique and valuable.
You can be yourself and still relate to the world. Something to remember in your search for your place.