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You Are Not Special

>> Thursday, December 5, 2013

You are not special.

I am not special.

"We" are not special.


Harsh right?

This is the message of several blogs/articles that have been circling the internet over the past several months. I've read them with interest, as this is something that's been on my heart for awhile now - this idea or concept of elevating oneself over others that comes from thinking you are somehow . . . special.

Some of these articles I found way too demeaning - viewpoints that dehumanized our existence and left myself as the reader feeling quite frankly, a little depressed. Others leaned too much to the other side - applauding a little too exuberantly the idea that life itself is a miracle and that each and every one of us can and should accomplish everything our hearts desire during our time here on Earth.

I fall somewhere in the middle. Actually that's not entirely true. I'm going to go out on a limb here and say I lean more towards the side that says we are not in fact, special.

It all comes down to how you use the word of course. "Special" by definition means "better or greater than". In the context I'm referring to here though, it means "better or greater than someone else entirely".

I don't think I'm special. And no offense to anyone else who is reading this, but - I don't think you're special either. I don't think that any one person's worth is better than or greater than another's. Of course I think some people are "better" or more skilled at some things than others. Some are smarter than others, some are funnier, etc, etc. My dad for instance is better at math and science than anyone else I know. My husband is one of the best speakers I've ever seen. I'm probably a better singer than a lot of my family and friends. But that doesn't make them special. It doesn't make me special.

Because as good as my dad is at math and science - there's a heck of a lot of people out there who are smarter than him in those areas. As skilled as my husband is at communicating, I know there are a slew of others whose skills are equal to or exceed his. And as confident as I am now in my singing abilities, I know for sure that there are flocks and flocks of singers out there who could outsing me on their worst days. And even those people who are better or more skilled, there are people out there who are even better than they are. There will always be someone who is "better".

I think we all know this on a base level, but the thing is - we're living in a very weird/interesting time in history. With both the ability to have instant access to information and the constant communication we're in with each other all the time, we can instantly put ourselves "out there" with this attitude of "look at me! look at me! look at what I'm doing! look at what I'm good at! I'm so special!!!!" And with this attitude we also tend to adopt the attitude or thinking that because we are "special" we are somehow "better" - not just at that one skill but somehow overall.

And it's not just with people who are highly skilled in certain areas. I don't know about you, but I see it all the time. People who have this sense of entitlement, a sense that they deserve better, a sense that they are better. And it comes from people from all walks of life. Upper class, middle class, lower class, from the West, from the East, from the young to the old. I know I myself have adopted this attitude from time to time, although it's definitely something I'm becoming a lot more aware of (plus I have a very level-headed husband who won't hesitate to call me out when I take on a "better than" attitude!)

As I was doing some reading on this subject I did some quick digging and found that there are over 7 Billion people on Earth. Roughly 4 people are born every second. Of every minute. Of every hour. Of every day.

Crazy right?! It's so awesome and humbling at the same time. Talk about putting your "status" in this world into perspective!

Think about it - 4 people born every second. So where do we get this idea that we're special? Don't get me wrong. Every child is a gift, and for those of us blessed with parents who welcomed us with tears of joy, we were (and are) indeed "special" . . . to them. But when you zoom out from the picture of your parents holding you for the first time in the hospital, to the other sets of parents beaming down at the 240 other babies born that minute, and then to the 14,400 other babies born that hour, to the 345,600 other babies born that day.

Well, you get the idea. Your birth was really not all that "special". You were/are a gift, a blessing - we all are. Each breath we take is a gift, and our lives truly can be a blessing to each other. But with 7+ billion of us, we're not all that . . . special.

I don't mean to offend at all - I believe in God our creator and I believe in His great design for our lives.

I think I'm coming to realize though that I believe more in our uniqueness, than our specialness. When you start to think about how, in a world of over 7 billion people, none of our DNA is exactly the same - that's pretty crazy and awesome, in a whole different way. When you begin to wrap your brain around that - that 7 billion people are truly different, are unique creatures, and none hold more worth than the other, it shifts your own attitude about yourself a little bit.

It's been a ongoing perspective shift for me, and I'm still working on it. I've gone through periods in my life so far where I've been incredibly prideful - where I've just expected a lot, simply "because". It's been incredibly helpful to me recently to remember that I'm not special, I'm unique. When I find myself feeling a little bit entitled, thinking "why is this happening to me", "why can't I have that?", "how dare they treat me like that!" I try to remember that we are all unique beings on this earth, and I am in no way shape or form above anyone or anything. It then becomes more of a realization of "why wouldn't this happen to me", "why would I have that", and "why wouldn't they treat me like that" - it helps take the me out of the equation and keeps everything on a level playing field.

It has also helped to motivate me to celebrate my uniqueness, and to be more accepting of myself. When you began to rid yourself of that need to stand not just out, but above others, and to just stand with others instead, it frees you in a way nothing else can. When you start to celebrate not just your own innate uniqueness, but the uniqueness of those around you, it adds a level of joy to what you're doing. It takes away an unhealthy pressure, and replaces it with a more healthy striving to improve not just your own life or lifestyle, but the lives of others. I don't mean to get all cheesy on you here, but when you look at the people who have really impacted this world in a positive way, I think it's safe to say that the vast majority of them weren't thinking of themselves when they accomplished what they did. They weren't looking to stand above, to elevate, to be superior, or special. They weren't looking out for the betterment of their own lives. They were looking to stand with, they were looking for equality, they were looking out for the betterment of the lives of others.

So no, I don't think I'm special.

I'm unique.

I am the only me in a world of 7 billion people.

You are the only you.

And that my friends, is pretty darn cool.


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