Let’s admit it, when you fly, drive the highway, talk to Verizon customer service, or wait in line, you are much more of a commodity than a person.
Here are three dazzlingly effective ways to discover your uniqueness.
Don’t ever wait.
On a recent flight, from Atlanta to Hartford I left my coat on the plane.
I pondered leaving the airport without my coat, but couldn’t remember what was in the pockets. Leaving without the coat seemed easier in the moment, but didn’t feel good.
So I approached the Delta clad woman at the ticket desk. “Wait over there,” she said, jabbing her finger to a space to her right. She was busy. She didn’t notice the color of my eyes, that I was 65 but hoping to look younger, or that I might be smart. I was a momentary inconvenience.
I stood where she told me to, but didn’t wait.
Waiting would have been standing there thinking about my coat, rather than simply standing there. So I stood there as present as I could. Whether I got the coat didn’t matter, nor did if I stood there forever. I stood tall, feeling my body, surveying the airport from a place I had never stood before and probably never would again. I wasn’t waiting, I was enjoying myself.
Nobody can make you wait. You have to voluntarily make this moment less and the next possible moment more in order to wait.
Another fellow, tall and muscular, with a harsh jaw line and a unique history of his own left his coat too. We talked, at first about nothing as people will, but quickly we spoke of what matters.
He was fully open, just having visited his ex-wife in Florida, taking measure, finding out if there was another chance for them. I mentioned my break-up and standing on the border of not knowing. He is a landlord, soon to have other people do that job and he has no idea what he will do next.
I can talk to people who know what they are doing now and have no idea what they will do next. Not knowing brings us together. Knowing separates us.
He has my phone number, we are friends in not knowing. We are in love, not necessarily with each other but with a world in which lost coats brings soul brothers together.
Don’t try and be unique.
If you try to be unique, you are likely to overshoot and find yourself eccentric. While there is nothing wrong with that, it alienates you from others and becomes an unnecessary block to intimacy.
Instead: stop trying to prove yourself, or even improve yourself and notice/celebrate your signature—your unique expression each moment of who you are.
I have tried more than once to impress someone with the fact that I have never had a coke, or a cup of coffee and that I once ran 26 miles without training. I think it left them imagining that I was odd and not impressive or desirable.
Individuality doesn’t have to separate you from other people.
Stop trying to set yourself apart, melt into the herd of people one moment, then stand out with your unique experience in the next. You don’t have to seek the spotlight to warm yourself by it.
Nobody feels just like you: so feel into your uniqueness.
You can be sitting on the airplane, next to someone with the same cold bug you have, but you don’t feel the same. You can be sitting in a restaurant, offer a bite of your blueberry cobbler to your partner and be assured it doesn’t taste exactly the same to them. Sure, they may say “that’s good,” but that is only a generalization, not the underlying burst of tastebuds which is totally unique.
Often it is what you feel, not what you think, that makes you special. Your feeling is so nuanced, situation and history dependent, that it is always unique. Thinking is much more susceptible to marketing, influence by peers or culture. So, one simple way to notice your uniqueness is to feel into yourself. What does it feel like to be you right now?
No two people in the queue at the airport are feeling the same thing. But many of them are thinking the same thing like: “Will I get to my flight on time,” or, “Why do I have to be in line.”
Thoughts can pelt you with the same thing all day long: “You don’t have enough money.” “You aren’t good enough.” “You aren’t going to make it.”
Even positive affirmations: “You are a goddess.” “You are the best person in the world.” “You can’t lose.” These just offer you the same thing over and over, diluting your uniqueness.
But each feeling is so nuanced. Nobody has ever in the history of the world felt what you are feeling right now. And noticing the subtlety of your feelings leads to the discovery of the unique expression of you.
Author: Jerry Stocking
Editor: Travis May
Images: Flickr/David Morris