I want to be different. Being like everyone else sucks.
However if not being different is different from being different, doesn’t that make it different? So, doesn’t that now mean we are all different – which therefore makes us all similar, thereby rendering the request totally pointless!
Okay. Did you know raccoons wash their food before eating?
We love to be different. In the last decade, largely thanks to the phenomenon known as Steve Jobs, being different has been romanticized into this brilliant badass of a human. There’s an aura of awesome surrounding different.
That’s why a lot of us stare off into blank space and rattle off things like, “I just want to, you know, do something different with my life.” What we don’t realize of course is how astoundingly empty of meaning that statement is.
It’s not that we cannot all do (or try to do) something different. The problem is we have no idea what different means. We have an image of this rad dude who breaks all rules and conventions – calls everyone a bozo – and then ambles off to dent a different part of the universe. What we don’t see in the different people is their years of constant struggle in some unknown basement of the universe.
Here’s how the Steve Jobs different story actually played out – the crazy ones:
They don’t break rules because it’s cool. They break rules because the rules don’t make sense anymore. They are obsessed with creating and therefore can be rude, irritable, and impossible to work with. They live a large part of life in the isolation, misery and the agony of creating something better. And then, after years of toil, the dented universe takes notice, puts their genius in front of the world and world goes: “ Yeah..yeah..all that is cool, but he was a complete jerk!”
Still want to be different?
Different is agonizingly hard. You are not competing with other people who are different. You are competing with the attention-seekers, the charlatans, and most importantly, your own self-doubt. To fail when you are a part of a crowd is no big deal. But, to laugh at the crowd – get out – and then fail?
The equation about different we all get wrong is we think we need to be different in order to do something. You can’t decide to be different and then go do things. You do something, realize it’s different from what everyone else is doing and continue doing it because you enjoy doing it.
Different is an inevitable part of the process. What we see with people like Steve Jobs is the idea known as different, while it was the doing that made him Steve Jobs all along.
Whether you are different or not is a pointless question. A better question is how comfortable are you with discomfort?
When Steve Jobs immortalized “here’s to the crazy ones,” he wasn’t talking to people who were different, he was talking to people who were similar to him: all the crazy ones who went through similar struggles. You aren’t automatically different because you walk away from the crowd. You are different because you love doing something so much that when you look up, you find there’s so few like you out there.
You shrug and go back to what you were doing.