It’s so cool to think about the uniqueness of each individual who has ever lived. Think about it: Every single human who has ever existed, has been its entirely own unique existence.
I guess that’s why we tell people to not compare themselves to others, and that life isn’t a competition, but rather we’re all on our own journey.
A thought experiment for the uniqueness of each individual
What makes a person unique from others?
Let’s take, for example, two newborn babies. If we take them, exactly at the time of birth, and place them beside each other, they’d already right then and there start experiencing the world with even the tiniest bit of difference. One will see the world a little bit more from the left, and the other one, a little bit more from the right.
And then, perhaps one baby will breathe a little bit deeper, and the other one, a little bit shallower. With every small difference, they will be more and more distinct.
This is without even taking into account any differences in genes and other biological differences.
With every single thought, emotion, and experience we have, neuroplasticity helps change our brains a little bit, creating new pathways in our brains. With every small unique experience we have, that gathering of our own neural pathways becomes even more unique.
No collection of brain activity is ever exactly the same as any other. Thus, no human is ever exactly the same as another. In other words, every individual is entirely unique.
Is it bad to want to be unique? – Western vs Asian Values
From the things I’ve been exposed to during life, I’ve experienced two sides of how to view the uniqueness of each individual.
On one hand, we have a culture that fully embraces every person’s uniqueness and encourages individuality. A few studies I’ve come across mention how this individualism is a western world trait, compared to Asian countries that have a much collectivistic and less individualistic culture.
And as someone who is from an Asian background, I have indeed noticed this difference in values between my western friends compared to my Asian relatives. In Asia, at least traditionally, children aren’t very encouraged to actively seek out strong individualistic self-expression. Instead, there’s a strong sense of family identity, and in some cases, even a common identity shared with relatives. You are not just your own person, you are a part of a family, a partnership, a nation and culture, and etc.
In the west, where I was born and live, it’s much more common for parents to encourage their children to seek their unique way of life and self-identity. And it is not only from family homes, but you can see this is community culture. In western media, it is much more common to see the celebration and appreciation of a diversity of appearance and self-expression.
This can of course also be noticed in beauty ideals in the west versus east Asian countries. In Asia, there is usually a much stricter set of standards of beauty, compared to the west.
Personally, perhaps because I grew up in western culture, I much more enjoy the thought of individual self-expression and embracing the uniqueness everyone has.
Although, a part of me sometimes thinks critically to myself “Who do you think you are? Why do you need to be special all the time?”, as though it is something bad to want to be and appear unique. Perhaps it comes from bad esteem, or perhaps it comes from my Asian upbringing where girls are taught not to take up too much space and not to “beg” for too much attention. But why not though? What’s so bad about wanting to be unique and stand out?
Currently, I think I sometimes make a distinction between someone who expresses uniqueness just in order to get attention and someone who appears unique because of authentic self-expression that shows off that person’s uniqueness. I’m not sure if that is a “correct” assessment of different social behaviors, or if it’s me being judgemental. After all, why is it really wrong for someone to seek attention for the sake of seeking it? If that makes them happy and doesn’t hurt anyone, why should I judge?
Either way, I do wish to be someone who can express my own individual uniqueness through authentic self-expression. And with that I mean: to embrace my own unique perspective, thoughts, ideas of the world, as well as create things to express my own fantasies and ideas for a possible world. And one way for me to do that is to write articles such as these.
And that’s what I want to encourage everyone else to do as well.
After all, isn’t the diversity of everything the things that make our world so beautiful, exciting, and alive? I think so. It’s all the different art, music, literature, people, and experiences. Even all the different seasons and changing weather conditions. Diversity and uniqueness are what create beauty and excitement for us. More can only be better.