Question: I want to know if you are different. So, tell me, what’s the difference between being different and not being different?
Answer: 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 question totally pointless?
Okay. Did you know raccoons wash their food before eating?
We love being different. In the last decade, largely thanks to the phenomenon known as Steve Jobs, being different has been romanticized into this someone who is a brilliant badass. There’s an aura of awesome surrounding different. That’s why a lot of us stare off into blank space and rattle things like, “I just want to do something different.” What we don’t see is how astoundingly beautifully lacking in 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 casually walks 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 part of the universe. They don’t break rules because it’s cool. They break rules because it’s stupid and they can’t take stupid. That’s why they 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 universe takes notice puts their genius in front of the world and world goes: “ Yeah..yeah..all that is okay, but he can be a complete jerk sometimes.”
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? Yeah, Oops!
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 only the 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 to ask is how similar you are to everyone around you. When Steve Jobs uttered the famous “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. 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 yourself all alone.
And you shrug and go back to what you were doing.