Why You Should Stop Being Unique
If you’re anything like me you worry there is nothing left for you to contribute to the world.
Surely everything we have to offer has been done before, better.
What’s the point of doing anything is it’s not the first, or at least the best?
We’re all told we are unique, then we’re all told not to be a cliche. Because a cliche is the very worst thing ever you can or be.
I want to tell you a secret. Unique is a trap. A lie. Nothing is unique, everything is just a rearranging of finite elements. There is only so many ways you can mix the same colours.
Then aiming for uniqueness becomes contrived, forced, a cliche.
Unique is the new cliche
It is a trap that can never be escaped, the constant balancing act between being original and not being pretentious. If you like pop music you’re “mainstream’ if you like alternative you're trying too hard to be different. If you like
Striving for uniqueness will always feel forced because it is forced. If we are coming at our lives and our creative expression from the point of how am I different then we are disconnected from how (and who) we really are.
This angle will stop you from speaking, writing, living. You start to monitor what you do and say, self censoring, altering yourself to not fit in.
It also disconnects us from everyone else. To maintain unique status you have to constantly create distance between you and others. I’m not like that, I like different things, I do things differently. I’m DIFFERENT, (and also separate and alone.)
If no one see’s how the same everyone else is, no one can see how different I am. And then trying to be different is in itself a cliche (helllllo high school rebels) and the cycle goes on and on and on.
So clones then?
Of course the other direction seems just as shitty. Following the road well travel, never breaking the mould, never having opinions or doing anything that might make you stand out.
But is the opposite of unique is same same. Bland repetitive grey replicas of everything that has been done?
No, not quite. The counterpoint to unique is authentic. Real, genuine, honest. Human
You are already unique, just by existing. Your very presence is unique. Unique is your base state, and authenticity is living in alignment with that. Expressing it with confidence. The catch 22 of all this is trying to be unique stops you from being authentic, and when you are inauthentic you are un-unique.
Here’s the real reason we are always trying to be unique though
Being authentic is scary as fuck
Uniqueness is a mask we wear, a shield. It’s a carefully cultivated image
Being authentic is vulnerable, real. Fucking terrifying.
To say this is me. This is what I like, this is who I am, what i enjoy, what I think, feels dangerous.
What if you genuinely like country music or ridiculous starbucks drinks. If it’s a unique thing than what other people think won’t matter, it’s not really anyway, the point is that they don’t get it, see different you are.
But if you really like it. Well, then you can be teased, mocked, ridiculed, all the fun stuff.
Your authenticity is fragile. It gets crushed fairly easily and the world isn’t very kind to the complexities of humans. We tend to shut off and shut up parts of ourselves deemed to be vulnerable, messy and not useful.
But without authenticity, without being a genuine real person we can’t connect to others.
It can be harder than we think to be authentic. To even know where to begin. What do I even like anymore. Who am I under the mask.
Start to listen for for the tiny voice in your head. The voice that says THIS, this is what I like, this is what I want to do, this is how I feel.
It'll probably be quiet, hidden under thoughts and worries about what others will think or feel. Just try to notice it to start with.
I've got a worksheet to get you started. It's a bunch of questions to get you thinking about what is real for you and what your aren't letting out.
What is getting in your way and holding you back?
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Let me know in the comments if this is some thing you've struggled with. I know the whole concept of unique and cliche and authentic can be pretty complicated and messy.
It can be easy to get caught up in wanting to stand out and be noticed. We all want to be special. If you need reminding you already are just look at your fingerprints.