Be unique, but don’t be yourself

I’ve noticed how the world keeps telling us to be unique, and how it conveniently and consistently leaves out the part where we still have to be ‘pretty’ while doing so. Anything deviant or nonsensical or absurd is the ugly kind of different.

I understand now how so many people mistake who they really are for who they think they should and want to be. Half of the time, we hear people saying how each and every one of us is different from one another. The other half, we hear people telling us how to act, what to say, how to think, what to do. It’s like telling someone, “You are unique. But why be unique when you can be as good as everyone else if you do this instead of doing that.”

You know who I think are the really brave ones? The guy in my world literature class who, I’m sure, knows he’s being made fun of whenever he opens his mouth to speak because his logic isn’t quite similar to ours. He keeps raising his hand to recite anyway. And the homeless girl I saw on the street the other day who was asked by a small boy if she really was a girl because she was bald, who answered yes she was and that she had to chop it all off because of lice.

I notice these people and I think about how it takes a lot of courage to be yourself, knowing that, in everyone else’s eyes, you’re the “wrong” kind of different. It would be so easy to change the unattractive things, or even just lie about them. And yet these people choose not to. They probably don’t even realize there’s something “wrong” with them, which, I think, is just beautiful.

When you have to actually change yourself in order to set yourself apart from everyone else, that’s not being different. That’s just trying to be a whole other person. I’m not saying we should never change. If we do change, let’s change because we want to grow and be better than our previous selves, not because we think we aren’t good enough.

People these days, a lot of them tell themselves they want to be different from everyone else, so they try to be – which, frankly, is exactly what makes them like a lot of people. It’s so rare to find someone who isn’t trying, who’s just, you know, simply being.

When I was still taking up Creative Writing as my major, I’ve been told by a couple of people to dig deep within me and not be afraid to show my “inner uniqueness.” I wasn’t the poster girl for the arts and humanities, that’s for sure. These people wanted me to present myself in a certain way all because I was a fine arts major and, therefore, had to be unique the ‘fine arts way.’

“You’re majoring in Creative Writing? You must be liberal then. Power to the people and all that.”  

“You probably drink and smoke too to get all inspired like that Edgar Allan Poe guy huh? Oh, you don’t?”

“You actually read Nicholas Sparks? And you haven’t even read To Kill A Mockingbird? Are you sure you want to be a writer?”

“Let me guess, you had a traumatic childhood and you write to escape from depression. What? No issues? So what could possibly inspire you to write?”

And the classic “Wait, you’re a Christian? So you just write about Jesus and all that religious stuff, I suppose.”

“BE THE REAL YOU! BE UNIQUE!” they said.

I will now take this opportunity to say what I’ve always wanted to tell them but never had the guts to actually do…



8 thoughts on “Be unique, but don’t be yourself

  1. caroline1t January 23, 2013 / 1:19 am

    This is awesome, you get two thumbs up from me!

  2. rossmurray1 January 23, 2013 / 1:49 am

    Pretty wise, kid. I love the “writer = trauma” assumption. Lovely piece.

  3. Miss Y January 23, 2013 / 3:17 am

    This is great advice 🙂

  4. vyvacious January 23, 2013 / 7:41 am

    Nice ending line. It’s true!!

  5. littlemscurious January 23, 2013 / 5:13 pm

    Wonderful piece of writing and so true!! Thanks for that 🙂

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