PART 1: LET’S TALK ABOUT “SPECIAL”
You may think you’re original.
And I bet you think everything you say and do is from your heart, and it truly is your own, and it truly is who you are.
I bet your parents raised you telling you how unique and special you are (if you had good-willed, well-meaning parents, anyway), because that’s what every parent wants their child to believe. It’s in good nature, really, but it’s pretty wrong, and instills the wrong thing on the child. By saying “you’re special and I love you SOOOOO much,” it really implies that “Hey, kid, if you weren’t special, I wouldn’t love you.” Of course they don’t mean that, but subconsciously, that’s how it registers.
Even the “bad” parents – the one’s who say “I hate you, you’re worthless” (harsh, I know, but hear me out), are saying the same thing as the good parents… That you have to be special to be loved.
I don’t really know why, because I don’t know what’s so special about being special, anyway. If everyone was special, then nobody would actually be unique or different, really. It’s not a big deal to not be special.
Anyway. Back to my point.
The only thing that’s special about people is that we are all different generations of the same values in a never-ending list of variations and patterns of traits we’ve gathered from other people. For some reason along the line, we begin to call these learned behaviors and emotions our own.
Here’s a fact:
We are all representations of everything we have ever seen and everything we have ever taken away from what people have felt/done/said in our presence. A weird thing about humans is how malleable we are to stimulation – when we receive other peoples’ perceptions, we begin to associate with the world based on how others do. This is the “nurture” bit of growing up that I’m sure you’ve heard of, and it’s a good basis for survival.
For example: “Don’t eat that berry. It will kill you.” So yeah, the younger generation doesn’t eat the berry.
Cool. We live. Natural selection at it’s finest. Helpful. Yay.
PART 2: LET’S TALK ABOUT “GENUINE”
I don’t know if it’s fortunate or unfortunate, but this passing on of knowledge and skill doesn’t translate only to survival skills – it also falls into the depths of our soul and changes our vibes, emotions, and thus actions and reactions, to be like those we surround ourselves by.
There’s a thing called “feeling rules.” Feeling rules are unwritten notions of how you should emotionally react in a certain situation, and for how long, and how intensely you should feel the way you do.
This means your emotions aren’t even necessarily all genuine.
Let that sink in – the things you feel and do may be completely irrelevant to who you are inside, and it’s entirely possible that the things you feel do not belong to you at all.
Look at it like this – you learn how you’re supposed to feel, and when, and for how long, and you accidentally take notes of all these subconscious cues and “feeling rules,” in order to feel like you fit in.
Come on, you don’t want to be the only person who doesn’t cry at a funeral, right?
Of course not. Because humans are bonded by tribes – it’s called tribalism, and it’s why people are so protective of “their” views, emotions, and actions. It’s why everyone gets so hot at political debates and why people dance at parties they hate and why peer pressure works. Tribalism.
PART 3: HOW TRIBALISM AFFECTS BEING SPECIAL OR GENUINE
People turn to tribalism and things like “feeling rules” (among other things – religions, TV show fandoms, what have you) because they like to feel like they are part of something, with people they care about and who care about them and who will protect them. After all, it’s safer to be with others than it is to be alone.
Tribalism is based on the passing of “knowledge,” skills, beliefs, morals, and feeling rules (like I’ve mentioned before), among lots of other things . So since these are all hand-me-downs from everyone you have ever come in contact with… Well, that makes being “special” hard, which makes it hard for you to believe you are loved.
Because you’re doing things based on what you’ve seen, not on what you’ve hardcore felt (to be part of a group), it makes knowing who you really are, really hard to do.
Here are a couple of steps to maybe try to figure it out (and if you’re an ego maniac, you’re not going to like it). Then again, if you’re an ego maniac, you probably wouldn’t have read this far.
1. Realize that you may not be who you, or anyone around you, thinks you are. You might be the exact opposite. People don’t like to do this because of their bond to society (ahem, tribalism) – which makes them feel safe and like they belong. By staring your views dead in the face, questioning if they are even your own, you dissociate everything that you feel and say and do with your self and begin to realize that it’s just what you’ve picked up, maybe not what you actually feel. So, yeah, in a way you will totally deconstruct your”self” (IF THAT EVEN IS YOUR REAL NAME!). So get ready for it. It’s a bumpy ride, my friend.
2. Watch your views and ask them questions. Your views don’t like to answer, so you will have to dig pretty deep. When you feel something, try to figure out why you’re feeling what you are. This will help you become more emotionally intelligent and will help you do number 3.
3. Define your values. This means you need to see and feel what is really important to you. Things like honesty, trust, discipline, love, empathy, compassion. For example: your significant other is out late. Said he/she had to stay at work. But they come home, and you smell someone else on their skin, and their hair is ruffled, and their heart is beating just a little faster than normal.
So you reach for their phone.
And you see the last number they called was their ex.
And you feel your chest tighten, and a ball of rage and pain wells up in your throat.
And you swear you’ve never screamed louder than you did that night, at them, for what they’d done, and at the road in your headlights as you drove away.
The values at play here are trust, honesty, and dignity. Those are the things you feel as your chest tightens and the lump wells up in your throat.
You see the picture in your head of the one you love, and the one you trusted, betraying you and breaking your trust in the worst way. But there are people who do that for fun, so the very action of it is not the thing that is tearing you apart. The root of it is your values, so these feelings are entirely genuine.
All in all, by defining your values, you can then proceed to step 4, and distinguish which of your emotions, actions and words and thoughts are genuine.
4. Decide if your values are really yours, or if they are socially constructed values that you learned from someone else along the line. Using the tools above, you can finally take a step back and figure out who you are. This means facing tightened chests, raging heartbeats, welled up throats and eyes, being an outsider (or being special, if that’s something you’re trying to accomplish), and deconstructing what you view as your self to reveal a truer, deeper, more genuine you.
And then, you will be special.
Not the college kid with a 3.0 who constructs him/herself to the ideals that other people define (what a bullshit word, by the way. Ideal. As if everyone sees it that way). Tons of people do that. The stuff inside is what counts.
If you’re looking for adventure, and to truly be loved (by you, which is the most important thing of all), embark on this journey. It is lifelong and exhilarating, and you will feel safe with yourself, finally.
A lot of people don’t ever get to feel that. Don’t conform to it. Break free, and find yourself, and you will flourish.