Best of Tom — Being “Individual”

March 8, 2008, 5:00 pm; posted by
Filed under Articles, Featured, Tom  | No Comments

Originally published March 7, 2007.

It’s only fitting how the concept of individuality can take such different forms in different people. You can claim your style of dress sets you apart, or your taste in music, the sports you like to watch, the sports you like to play — even the sports you like to dislike. Political party affiliations or opinions, hair and make-up style, or views on any philosophical idea can be expanded to become, in one’s mind, the trait that sets self apart from other.

The idea of individuality’s “forms” came to me while I mused over the meaning of a recent dream. I briefly considered using a “meaning of dreams” Google search to find a “professional’s” opinion of what my dream meant, but quickly pooh-poohed the idea. Knowing as I do that dream “interpreters” will, like psychics, psychologists or actuaries, keep their ideas as general as possible, I felt it futile to even bother looking. Then it occurred to me that an idea applied to everyone can still be applied to me. Just because something is a mirror in which anyone can see his reflection does not mean he can’t use that image to spot the crumbs in his beard.

For years, our culture has loudly and superficially valued uniqueness as one of the most admirable character qualities, while subtly rewarding those who maintain the status quo. The subculture as a concept exists to allow a piece of society to swallow one person’s view of his own uniqueness, rendering him as much a sheep as any other member of society. By clinging to their superficial individuality, these people become even more seamlessly integrated with their fellows.

A more realistic way of looking at things would be to acknowledge the fact that any and every aspect of your life is duplicated almost exactly in countless other people. There’s no need to resign yourself to this fact, because the sum of these disparate aspects is certainly unique. Focus on doing things you enjoy, follow trends if that’s what you want, and accept that your horoscope was spot on – you did meet someone and gave them a second chance to make a first impression, and they turned out to be a totally cool person!

Just don’t dye your hair, clothes and taste in music black, and think it makes your sheep black too.


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