On Uniqueness

“Today you are You, that is truer than true. There is no one alive who is Youer than You.”

This is a quote by Dr. Seuss, one that I’m sure was my Facebook status at some point in 8th grade. The sentiments are well-meaning: you are unique, an individual. You are the only person that has lived your experiences, and can do the things you do.

But I don’t really know if that’s true.

I am simultaneously a narcissist and someone with low self-esteem. I like to think that I am that there is no one like me. But I also call myself a “cliché” – a movie trope, just another college girl that wants to move to the big city and become a writer. I feel torn between the idea that I am unique, and the idea that I am average.

It’s scary to think that we are living in a world of endless stories – that every day, someone is experiencing a life-altering moment. Your heartbreak is unique to you, but at the same time it is a universal feeling every adult human being can say they’ve experienced. You want to be cool, to be different, to be a step above, but there are probably 100 people on campus with similar character traits and likes and tastes. Every person is the focal point of their own lives, with supporting characters and similar emotions enacted from experiences that are different in some ways and the same in others.

Then, you begin to think about the past, and the future. There are even more people, people that are one-offs of you, that have existed or will exist and experience the same aspects of the human condition that you do.

I saw a joke on Twitter a while back called “Gifted Kid Burnout Bingo.” Some of the squares included: “fear of not living up to potential,” “need for constant validation,” and “thinking you’re better than everyone else despite having nothing to show for it.” If this was real, I think I would have filled my entire board by now.

It’s hard to adjust to not being that different – it’s unnerving. Especially growing up in a small town, then going to a big university. It makes you feel less than, like someone whose time at your college or in your town may have no meaning whatsoever.

I wish I had a solution to this way of thinking, but I don’t. It’s something we have to come to terms with.

However, there is some comfort to this.

It is reassuring to know that everyone will experience heartbreak, or regret, or will know what it feels like to care about something. It’s reassuring that we all experience the same basic fundamentals of the human condition – in different ways, but still the same structure.

The world is vast and ever-expanding and time stretches out and our lives are just a sliver of a dash on a timeline. And you can look at that in fear, or with comfort. I should choose comfort more often.

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