There’s something that I spend a good amount of time wondering.
When are we being different because it truly jives with our inner self, and when are we doing things in a contrary way just to prove that we’re different?
Put another way, when do our choices stem from something intrinsic to us, and when are they prescribed by what’s around us?
I think of this when I see counterculture groups spring up. Punk, goth, biker, hipster … you can spot the members quickly because they all look so similar.
In not subscribing to the mainstream, they look really, really conformist!
I also think of it each time I’m tempted to buy a pair of skinny jeans….
But who cares how people look, right? That’s something we can play around with on the daily. What matters is who we are.
On that topic, my husband and I have spent our road trip trying to decide on a name for our son. It’s a big deal. After all, a name ends up forming part of a person’s identity.
I came up with one that I loved (Logan) … and then something made me check its popularity: #6.
Number six? I don’t know anybody with that name, or anybody that has given their son that name. How can it be number six?
Before I knew it, I was seeing Logans everywhere, including in movie titles and superhero names. It quickly became much, much less appealing.*
But so what if we share things in common with other people, and if we’re not perfectly unique? So much of that is beyond our control. There’s nature, there’s nurture, there’s circumstance …. We are who we are.
Which makes me think that the only thing that really defines us is what we do.
And that brings us back to the original question about the choices we make.
We all want to give ourselves the freedom to walk an uncommon path, but we’ve got to make sure that we’re doing more than just reacting to what’s around us (even when it comes to naming a child).
At some point, it becomes less about turning left when others turn right, and more about taking the time to understand ourselves, our preferences, and what matters to us ... and then following that guidance regardless of what others are doing – even if they’re doing exactly the same thing we are (and that drives us up the wall)!
To be truly uncommon – or to truly walk our own path and live life on our own terms – we’ve got to constantly question ourselves and our motivations.
And we’ve got to do it despite the fact that it’s impossible to ever know everything that drives us, because the search for our own, uncommon way isn't just a reflection of who we are … it’s what we choose to do.
Here’s to making your choices count,
And now I’d really love to know what’s important to you. Where do you do things differently than those around you? What do you wish you did differently? When does it not matter to you either way?
*A little background here. My full name is Jennifer. On the day I was born, there were 8 other Jennifers on my hospital floor. Throughout school, my name always included my last initial because there were so many other Jennifers. Never has there been a phenomenon like Jennifer: described as “an epidemic,” it was the most popular name in America for fourteen straight years!
So I’m a little biased against common names.