Monday, July 04, 2005

The unique issue.



I was watching a movie the other day where one of the characters was desperate to be unique and original. That got me thinking: what is it with today’s youth’s need to be original? Everyone wants to be one of a kind, one in a million, a person who is such on its own rules and unique characteristics. I’ll tell you who is original: everyone.

So my question is: Why search for originality if you already are unique? Why try so hard on being something you already are? I think it depends on what you understand by uniqueness.

Some people see it on the exterior: clothes, fashion, shoes, hairstyles. “Nobody else has this shirt. Eat your heart out”. Oh. Okay. What am I supposed to say? “Congratulations”? “Yay, you have a shirt no one else has. You can die peacefully in a grave no one else has but that serves the same purpose”? It’s the image that counts. Why is image so important nowadays?

We have Brad Pitt and Winona Ryder to blame for that because they’re too pretty and they make people feel ugly. But maybe it goes beyond literal beauty… Maybe we should blame hot people, like Hayden Christensen, who may not be extremely handsome but there’s something about him that makes feel like I have to look really pretty in case he sees me on the street while he talks to a cop about the restraining order he’ll have against me. Either him or Patrick Swayze. To me it’s all in the jaw and the Adam’s apple. But that dress belongs to another dance. (A dirty dance, perhaps…? Yeah, that was lame).

The point is that with this beauty craze different companies and fashion designers have created a campaign around image and low self-esteem. Do I really need people reminding me day and night that I’m not thin enough or that my pores have been neglected? The answer is no. And those who think just like me want to distinguish themselves from the herd and try to seek inventiveness. Which is not a bad thing. I admit it: it bothers me when I see someone wearing my sneakers. It’s only happened a couple of times, but still. Sneakers are like dating: they have to be exclusive.

Other people see novelty in personality. We all go crazy over those girl/boy-next-door characters in movies. Those weird, eccentric people that talk funny and are always wise beyond their years and seem to have untouchable optimism. And they are just ‘secondary’ roles. Their purpose is to keep the leading man/lady fascinated and intrigued throughout the whole plot so they can serve as inspiration to them and they can finally change.

I’ve never had the necessity to be or feel original because I’ve always known I am. Maybe I’ve done stuff nobody else has done before and other stuff thousands have done or I have the coolest sneakers in the world; to me it doesn’t really make a difference because the way I felt when I did that is what makes me unique. There is not one person in the world who could understand exactly how I felt when I watched my sister crying as she held her son for the first time because feelings are exclusive. Okay, if you have powers and you’re strong in the Force maybe you know how I felt. But since that’s a slight possibility I’ll assume you don’t. But what about empathy?

You know how everyone has a crazy/funny aunt/uncle/relative? My aunt is always telling me I have extra-sensorial powers and that I’m in touch with cosmic forces and that my aura is really cool. My sister’s friend proudly announced for everyone to hear that I was an Indigo child and that I had this special sensitivity and that I was supposed to save the world and all that (I have a special family), but all that doesn’t mean that I can completely 100% get into someone else’s head, heart and soul and know exactly how they feel. So that brings me back to my point: the way we feel things is one of the many factors that make us all unique and original in our own way.

I made up a story in my mind about a girl who devoted her life to be original, and she was so determined to find uniqueness that she neglected every other aspect of her life: family, friends, duties and responsibilities. This is the quest for originality taken to the extreme. But then I started thinking that maybe she did it because no one told her she was unique. I’ve had people telling me that since before I was conceived. Okay, maybe about 9 months after that. When I was a baby I stretched my toes and my mom thought it was the cutest thing and none of my siblings had done that before me. And today, when I hear her tell the story of how when I was 16 months old and she was expecting my little sister I put a balloon under my dress and said ‘look, mommy, I’m pregnant, too’ I can hear the unspoken words ‘you are special’. But everyone is special, in different ways, but we all are. Like my brother, who lost both his school shoes and his sneakers in the same day and walked back home barefoot. Or when he said “mom, my bones hurt” just to stay home and watch a soccer game.

I’ve always felt like the “weird sheep” of the family, and weird doesn’t necessarily mean ‘original’, because I know all my siblings are one of a kind, just like my friends, my numerous cousins, my neighbors and all the people out there.

And we’re not just unique in spirit. It’s in our blood. No matter how much my sister and I look alike, we don’t have the exact same blood. We come from the same gene pool but with a different mix. I’m not really scientific so I won’t go into specifics, but you get my point.

Maybe some of us need to be told we’re original. More than original and unique, that we’re special. To the 3 people reading this: you are special. Now hold hands and sing kumbayah.

The bottom line is: don’t pierce your armpit to feel original. Pierce it because you like it.

1 comment:

Anonymous said...

That was an interesting take on originality. You're a gifted narrator and your prose is fresh and witty. I love how you add little details of your personal life and your own frustrations to make a point. It's good to know you have the ability to laugh at yourself; that's something most of us lack.

And I love how you write about your sneakers. I immidiately got the idea that they are your most priced possession and I love how you keep bringing them up in different posts.

By the way, you have very good English.

I also loved how you turn to pop culture to explain different issues. All in all, very well put.

Oh, and I'm singing Kumbayah right now ;D