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The Tyranny of “Special”: Why You Should Give Up Being Special and Try on Being Unique

We live in the cult of the special. Children watch princesses on TV and want to be special (loved, adored, worshipped) just like them. We watch movie stars and athletes and wish we could be like them. We tell our children that they are special and can do anything they want to do. And I think this is all a big mistake.

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Special is exhausting. It walks into a room and it has to feel important.

If others don’t stop and take notice, Special’s feelings are hurt. It makes up stories about how the others are jealous. It holds grudges. It gets angry with other people just for living their lives.

Special works really hard to make sure it piles up accomplishments (many of which don’t matter to It at all) so others will know how valuable It is. Every new reward, trophy, degree, promotion reminds it how special It really is but the feeling wears off faster and faster.

It misses so many of the joys of life because It spend so much energy just to be acknowledged.

Even when Special finds It’s importance in helping others, secretly helping others is still all about Special. It (sometimes not so secretly) thinks, “If it wasn’t for me these people would stay where they were. Aren’t they lucky that I have rescued them.”

And at the end of the day, Special’s deepest fear is that It’s just like everyone else. That there’s nothing special about them after all. They’re just ordinary, everyday folks — which means there’s no reason to love them.

The day Special makes this realization we should throw a party, celebrate their coming out of the darkness and make a path for life to truly begin. It might feel painful at first but it creates space for a new path to emerge — the path of the unique.

Why not release the need to be special and embrace the unique?

While trying to be special is exhausting — largely because we must rely on others to confirm our experience of specialness — Unique is internally motivated. It seeks it own path and if others aren’t on the same ride that’s okay.

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I like to remind people that You are the only version of your song that the universe will ever sing. You have a perspective, a story, a history, a body that taken all together gives you a perspective on the world that no one else has.

And this is enough.

And thus, you are enough.

Unique recognizes this.

At It’s core, Unique knows that it doesn’t need to prove anything. It doesn’t have to live by the standards of others. It can find it’s own way to happiness. And It’s way doesn’t have to be the only way.

Unique understands that it holds a perspective that is all it’s own born from It’s particular life experiences, thoughts, dreams, ideas. There is value in It’s perspective and even when it takes in the ideas, dreams, stories of another, this is still it’s own unique mix.

Being loved by another human being lights us up precisely because the other mirrors back our uniqueness. They don’t confer our specialness from the outside but rather see our uniqueness and mirror it back to us. What a beautiful gift to see another.

Burning the Prescription

I started to end this piece with a list of ways to start finding your own uniqueness — the path that will lead you into your own bliss. And then I thought better of it.

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Your path is yours alone. You are, in fact, already on it. So instead of a prescription, I’m making an invitation. Please share in the comments below one way you are living your uniqueness. Shine your light so that others might find theirs. And, if you have a tip or two about how you got there share those too!

Down with Special! Vive the Unique Revolution!

About the Author

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Dr. Scott Mills is a creature of constant reinvention. He’s a nomadic professor in the digital diaspora, a mind ninja and a beat poet who missed the sixties. He writes, teaches and coaches folks who are ready to live lives worth living. You can find out more about him at www.scottwmills.com

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