Tag Archives: Individuality

Who Are You?

If I asked you to tell me about yourself, you’d probably tell me your name, your gender, your ethnicity, your job, your religious beliefs (if any), your musical taste, your marital status, your education status, your pet ownership status, your Zodiac sign, your political allegiance and if you’re an introvert or extrovert.  Which is great–those things would help me get to know you some.  However, none of those things are really who or what you are, they are merely labels.

And labels, well, they kind of suck.

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Labels are reductive, they divide us and limit us.  They give us a reason to fight rather than unite.  They prevent individuality by making us conform to definitions and group allegiance rather than conforming to our own authenticity.  They cause us to generalize people instead of looking at each person as a special case because it’s easier that way.  They take away from what it is to be human and replace it with a facade.  They make it difficult to discuss ideas because people ascribe those ideas to the label rather than the person, which causes arguments rather than understanding–especially if the people fall under different labels. 

You are more than a label or an identity.  You are more than your beliefs and experiences.  You are more than a gender, a race, a religion, a political party or an age.  You are a human.  A soul.  Like the rest of us.

Instead of discussing political reform as a concept, we blame conservatives for only aiding the rich and blame liberals for making the government too big and expensive.  Instead of talking about gender equality or freedom of belief, we blame feminists for male-bashing, “meninists” for feminist bashing, Muslims for terrorist attacks and we blame Christians for Bible-thumping. 

We don’t agree with conspiracy theorists because they’re all obviously crazy and we never listen to scientists because they’re always changing their minds and talking down to us if we can’t keep up.  We know athletes are overpaid douchebags and we know mathletes will never lose their virginities. We know stoners are all losers and we know straight-edge people are all winners.  We know people from rough areas are bad asses and we know people from gated communities are yuppies.  We know everyone who wears flannel and tight jeans are hipsters while everyone wearing hoodies, baggy jeans and sneakers are thugs.  We know cops are corrupt, politicians are shady, women are emotional and men are aggressive.

We know so much about others based on their labels, don’t we?  So much that we don’t even need to get to know them before believing we know them.  Which only makes it easier for us to judge and gives us more opportunities to misunderstand.  Because labels are merely facets of who we are and none of them are really definitive or say anything about our personalities. We cling to them to feel a sense of identity and belonging, but that’s all it is, a sense.  Not the real thing. 

So when people ask about you, try telling them about your passions and hobbies.  Tell them about your quirky sense of humor, your love for cinnamon pancakes or the dream you are working on manifesting in the future.  Tell them how you can’t sleep at night without having the television on or how you consume fifty cups of coffee a day.  Tell them you built your own computer or that you travel somewhere new each year. 

Tell them what things in life still give you goosebumps. 

Tell them all of that instead because it reveals more of who and what you are as a person than labels do.  The labels give us status and constructed identities, but telling someone you get goosebumps when checking out new books at the library tells them more about you than the fact you are a data analyst.  Because we are always so much more than our constructed identities.  We are human, we are souls and we are complex webs of thoughts, memories, passions, dreams, attitudes, outcomes and personalities.

Each one of us is a universe.  So ask yourself, who are you?

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Spread Your Seed…Of Positivity

“There are no extra pieces in the universe. Everyone is here because he or she has a place to fill, and every piece must fit itself into the big jigsaw puzzle.”

–Deepak Chopra

Whether or not you’ve thought much about it, you are a supremely unique individual with your own blend of talents and traits (hereon referred to as “style”) to share with the world.  No one else will ever have your same personality, your same outlook on life or your same path…let alone all three. Though we are all one in a sense and have a lot more in common than we like to admit, our individual styles are what make us one-of-a-kind expressions of life and soul.  Our individual styles make us unforgettable and irreplaceable.

Take a moment to think about what your natural talents and traits are.  Perhaps you are funny, athletic, intelligent, sociable, musically inclined, supportive, strong, artistic, techno-savvy, optimistic, hard-working or helpful.  Maybe you can sing real well, cook for a king or fix nearly anything.  Maybe you’re a patient and thoughtful listener or maybe you know all there is to know about accounting.  Just think about all the big and little things that make you who you are but especially any natural talents you have and your personality traits that you think make you different from others.

Now, think about how you can use those talents and traits of yours to positively impact those around you in a small way.  Each one of us has a story that weaves and intertwines with the stories of countless others, so if each of us were to use our talents and traits to benefit those we come into contact with on a daily basis then over time we will benefit everyone in the world by extension.

It’s what I call “planting your seed of positivity” and the cool thing about it is you don’t have to do much:  simply affect someone positively and watch as that person does the same to spread your seed on down the line.  It’s like a phone tree except more reliable.  We all know something as small as holding a door open, letting someone merge into your lane, helping a friend move or smiling at a stranger can make a huge difference in someone’s life.  Everyone has their own struggles and we typically don’t know what others are going through at any particular moment or during the course of a lifetime.  A simple friendly gesture could be an improvement to anyone’s day but we can take this practice a step further.  Consider another quote:

“Everyone you will ever meet knows something you don’t.”

–Bill Nye (The Science Guy)

Think of what would happen if everyone taught someone a single thing that person didn’t know–in no time at all the entire world would become that much more knowledgeable.  For instance, I love meeting people who have a unique taste in music because I’m shamefully dependent on the radio and I invariably end up with a list of interesting artists to check out.  This usually leads to me finding new music I really dig and connect with, which then leads to me sharing that music with other people I know.  Even if I never see those musical mentors again I at least have two new things to carry with me for the rest of my life:  a wider music base and a sense of these peoples’ individual styles.  The first will enrich my playlist with new things to be exposed to while the second will help me further define myself by showing me how I am different from others and how I am similar (in other words, it reveals more of my unique style to me).

Of course, I also learn a lot from other people by looking at their personalities and attitudes, listening to their backgrounds, talking about their goals and motivations, observing how they interact with the world and discussing their philosophies on things like life, love, society and their interests.  But the point here is to share what makes you unique with others so they may carry it with them and spread your seed of positivity while learning how to spread their own seeds.

Helping others find their unique styles is important because it promotes self-actualization, esteem, individuality and personal development.  Not to mention we are all geniuses in at least one thing, so helping people find their inner geniuses through genuine self-expression can lead to a more enlightened and awakened world…akin to a Renaissance. Teach a good friend your special blueberry muffin recipe (but maybe not your secret blueberry muffin recipe).  Take someone to your favorite spot and compare music playlists.  Show others your intuitive understanding of the world and inspire them to make a difference.  Help somebody learn how to do an oil change.  Or simply lift peoples’ spirits with your random jokes and warm personality.  Just try to rub off in a good way and with good intentions–those are like the sun, water and soil for your seed.  Over time you’ll see your seed grow into a sapling among thousands of other saplings.  And over some more time, all those saplings will grow into a forest where each plant is helping the plant next to it grow and develop into a strong tree.

Imagine what we could accomplish as a species and as a civilization if we all helped each other grow into strong trees rather than competed for the light and cut each other down to stumps.  Let’s leave the deforestation of each others’ characters, identities and happiness in the past where it belongs–right next to actual deforestation.