On Being Unique

Being unique, for me, has proved much more difficult than going with the crowd. 

At the same time, as I’ve gotten better, doing what everyone else does is actually starting to seem harder. 

Regardless, I got some ideas for you about this. 

I observe, for most people, there is a ton of energy spent on watching what other people are doing, and doing the same. 

I’m pretty sure there is science about this: mirror neurons or something. 

Turns out these are sick ass neurons. Very important for our evolution. Particularly our evolution speed. 

The idea is that we pass on lessons between generations EXTREMELY EFFICIENTLY. 

We’re all basically walking experimenters. 

We all go about our lives, living them in slightly different ways, exploring new parts of the world and testing things out. 

For babies, and young kids, they learn through mirroring. 

Everything that you’ve learned in your life, you pass onto your kids as they mirror you. 

That’s why knowing who our parents are is extremely important for self-awareness (link to other article)

So, if I learn a bunch of things, my kid is going to absorb all that I’ve learned, like how to walk for example, something that our old ancestors actually didn’t know how to do for awhile. 

But they’re also going to have a chance to learn new things, after they’ve absorbed everything that I’ve learned. Then they pass all of me and what they’ve learned on to their kids, and the cycle continues. 

So, this mirror neuron thing is actually incredibly awesome. 

But, it has it’s downfalls. 

Because we learn so much from those around us, unless we actively break away, and do things differently, we will be very similar to everyone. 

And this has always been the case. 

For example, chocolate oranges at Christmas. Everyone gets them. Why? Because everyone gets them. Why do we still get them? Because we’ve always got them. 

It takes a lot for us to try something new, or to change our ways. But once we do, we don’t like to change back. 

We can observe this with the oranges. The first year they came out, some people go them. Then more, then more. Then soon a bunch of your friends has them, so you had to have them. 

The key is in the first people who buy the oranges. These are the people who experiment. 

They tried something new to see if it works. 

We all gravitate towards these people. A lot. 

In history, we celebrate these individuals, those who did something different than everyone else. 

I’m not suggesting that everyone should be a change-maker. Then the whole world would be in chaos. 

Plus, we don’t need to be different from everyone in everything. 

For example, everyone having cars seems like a good idea, because then I can come to your house sometimes, and you can come to mine some other times. 

What I want to encourage is the awareness that we don’t make most of our decisions for ourselves. We don’t think about most of them, and just mirror those around us. 

This is because it’s hard do what’s different from what everyone else is doing. 

For me, it has do with being self-conscious. 

I don’t have confident in my own ability to make decisions, so I trust the decisions made by those around me. 

This is backwards. Sure, those around me reinforce that my decision is right, but what if everyone does this? 

What if everyone just does what those around them do, with no one putting thought into the decision? 

This seems like it would be a problem. It is a problem whenever I have seen it happen. 

I hope you can see this cycle. The most important thing to us, if we are self conscious, is to know we made the right decision. 

The best way to know is that people around us tell us it’s the right decision. 

If we pick a certain job, whether or not it’s the right fit, everyone around us (the people at our new job), will tell us we made the right decision. 

But notice very carefully the cycle. This is not the case for everyone, but hear me out. 

Originally, the company started, with a bunch of people who liked working there because they made a bunch of money from starting the company. 

Then, more people came, and when they came, they hear from all the people who started the company that it was a great company to work for (because they made a bunch of money from starting it up). 

Then, more people come who hear from the people who heard from the first employees that it’s a great company. 

Then you come, and everyone who is there says it’s great company. 

They might be miserable, hating coming to work every day, but if everyone says the company is good, it must be good right? You must be lucky to work there, right? 

This is terribly difficult situation, because this might be the worst company for you. 

But, if you listen to everyone around you, then you’re wrong. It’s the best company for you, because they think it’s the best company for them. 

The problem with these mirror neurons is that they don’t work for everything. 

Some things we should all do the same, or at least almost the same, like walking and putting a spoon to our mouths. 

But other things, like what job we get, how many kids we have, or who and when we get married, should be different for everyone. 

The reality is that we all have different preferences for everything. 

But remember, being unique is difficult. Making decisions for ourselves that are different than what those around us are doing takes a lot of energy to break us away from the pack. 

If it takes so much energy, perhaps we should reserve this for bigger decisions like what job we get. 

And maybe we should care less about breaking away from the pack for less important things, like wearing our underwear on the inside, or outside of our pants. 

We don’t need to be different just for the sake of being different. Sometime though, wearing them on the outside is kinda fun. Never too many laughs. 

But, in my experience, I have noticed there to be generally two types of people: those who do what everyone else does for most things, and those who do what only they do for most things. 

It seems to be a sort of binary difference in decision making. 

To me, it seems like making our own decisions, trying to do what we think is best for ourselves, is better for us than doing what other people think is good for themselves. 

But maybe it’s better to go with the crowd. I’m not sure. I just know what I’ve observed, and what feels best for me. 

For me, it feels best to watch what everyone else does, but to not care about it. 

In fact, for me, the less I do what everyone else does, and the more I do for myself, the better. 

The more johnsamuelgray I can be, the more valuable I am to the world. 

This is related to not caring what other people think. Which I encourage you to explore how often it’s pointless to think about what others think. 

But we’ll save that for another day. 

For now, enjoy being your unique selves. Or do what everyone else does. Or a bit of both. 

It’s up to you.