We are all uniquely the same. Margaret Mead was a real SagaciDiva, a famous American anthropologist who spent her career studying human culture and helping us to see the many different ways that we are all just the same. Yet, there is this constant tug-of-war going on between striving to be different, while being pressured to be the same. Which is it? Do we want to be unique, the same, or uniquely the same?
Think of Life as a big tropical fish tank. Swirling around you’ll find every imaginable size, shape, color and design of fish darting in and out of the corals, the seagrass, the sand, but no matter how different they all are, they’re all the same. They’re all fish. Why aren’t all fish exactly the same? Why does there need to be more than one kind of fish? The answer is in biological resiliency. If all fish were of one design, eating one type of food and living in one type of climate, and some crisis happened in the environment or the food supply to jeopardize the survival of that particular type of fish, that would mean the end of all fish, yes? The more variety there is in the different types of fish, the greater the likelihood that fish, in general, will continue to survive. That same principle applies to every species, us included.
Evolution has shown that all species have come and gone overtime depending on their ability to adapt. So, okay, there’s a biological push to be different to keep the human species adaptable. As a result, in every population, there are those who simply cannot be comfortable with the status quo. They need to explore, to challenge, to push the existing limits of what others have done to find new talents, achieve greater goals, to “evolve” beyond that which is “normal.”
Yet, we are drawn to what’s the same, aren’t we? Don’t we like to be with people who are like us, whose appearance, values, and personality are comfortable to us? In fact, to grow up an emotionally stable person, we have to be raised in sameness. We are at first more defined by what makes us the same as those around us than what separates us. As children, you get your first sense of identity from your family, your religious faith, your school and neighborhood. It isn’t until your teen years that you have enough confidence in your own identity that you begin to rebel against being the same as your family, but even then, you rebel against family in an effort to be more the same as other teens. You switch experiencing the sameness of your family to be different from them, but the same as your peers. Then, as you enter adulthood, you hopefully recognize yourself as being your own individual capable of free will, able to pick and choose what about you will be the “same” and what you will strive to make “different.”
There’s no need to question whether or not you are “different;” you already are. So, what sense is there in striving to be different just for the sake of being different? No two humans are exactly the same, not even identical twins. The question is, what is your unique way of being the same as other human beings out there? Do you know what the difference is that makes you you? We share a species, yet are each an expression of that species unique unto ourselves. What is the difference about you that enhances the way in which you are an example of our species? What is it about you that makes a human more, well, human? What is it about how you go about being you that makes you more adaptable, that expands your reach, that elevates your humanity?
As different as we all are, and as original as we may strive to be, every individual accomplishment is a gain for all humanity. Just as every human failure, every degeneration backwards, drags us all down as a whole.
Don’t think naked. Appreciate that we all share a human experience, but each through our own individual perspective. Being different is not the same as being unique. If you want to be different, ask yourself if you are doing it just to blindly rebel, or if you are elevating that which is unique about you, not just different.