Snowflake by Barbara Friedman (2012)

Special Snowflake Syndrome

In thinking about my past, there is a recurring theme around being unique at the cost of making less-than-optimal decisions. Special Snowflake Syndrome is a term I coined, and it’s been on my mind this week so I wanted to write about it.

Special Snowflake Syndrome (SSS) is when you let pride and desire to be a unique, special snowflake get in the way of things that you might otherwise think, say or do. Perhaps the most prominent example from my life is that at one point, I wanted to be a lawyer. When I heard that my cousin was also pursuing law as a career path, it seemed like it wouldn’t be special anymore, and so on some instinctual level, for better or for worse, I became less interested in it.

At the time, her genuinely excited reaction was:

“We can both be lawyers together and we’ll have two lawyers in the family!”

and my childish immature reaction (that I kept to myself at the time) was:

“But I don’t want to be a lawyer if you’re a lawyer too.”

Today, I now know that law would’ve been a poor fit for me, and she is an extremely talented lawyer fully engaged in her true calling.

This kind of thinking has probably led me to make some decisions that were not optimal, and I wonder if this is common and something that the Millenial generation often comes into contact with, particularly when making important life decisions or creating life goals. We try so hard to be unique and special and quirky that in the chance where we want some thing, think some thought or act some way and then others do it too, or did it first, it no longer holds the same kind of appeal. And sometimes, this line of prideful thinking and decision making can be detrimental to understanding yourself and what you really want.

I recently thought of this again because there are what seems like many, many yoga instructors in the Bay Area. I enjoy yoga, have done it for 10 years, and have considered the idea of becoming a yoga instructor myself. But my initial reaction was, “I already know 2 yoga instructors, and then I’d just be yet another Bay Area girl who’s in tech who’s also a yoga instructor and that’s just boring. And that’s not me — I’m not boring.” It seems ridiculous to actively work against what you might love out of fear that others may view you as normal, average, or boring. If I want to be a yoga instructor, I shouldn’t let pride and fear get in the way.

The lawyer anecdote was from 10 years ago, and the yoga instructor is from the last 2 years, so one could say I still suffer from a mild case of SSS. Today, I’m still considering being a yoga instructor, because I realize that pride is not a good reason for me to not pursue something if I truly am passionate about it. The reasons I’m hesitating on becoming a certified instructor today have more to do with reasonable considerations like the time and money investment and the challenges in building up a client base.

As for SSS, I’m learning to identify its tell-tale signs and to mindfully correct for it in all areas of my life to become a better person. But every once in a while, it’s still okay to be proud.

Being a special snowflake is totally worth it.