Tuesday, June 16, 2009

The Illusion of Individuality

How do we know ourselves in life? There is so much pressure, especially in Western society, to be "an individual," to "stand out from the crowd," and to "get noticed." Siblings take on different roles in a family because one niche was already occupied. Instead of striving to be more ourselves, we end up struggling to be "NOT someone else." We confine ourselves into limited self-portraits that narrow our experience of life. Our own perceptions create invisible fences that prevent us from dancing in public, skydiving, taking a computer class, or any other activity that might not fall into the category of "this is who I am."

When I work with young people on songwriting and composition, I talk about the difference between originality and authenticity. I tell them that there is no sense in trying to do something "original" just for the sake of being different. It might be different, and it might also be really bad... and on top of all of that, it might not even reflect the truth of who you are. And by the way, "who you are" is a moving target. Being authentic means paying attention to what feels true and right on a day to day and moment to moment basis.

The irony of all of this is that we are all already uniquely individual. Like snowflakes, no two souls in the world are exactly the same. We all have something to contribute to the world in some small way. So, if we can delve more deeply into the truth of who we are rather than trying to just be different from everyone else, we will actually end up being different from anyone else! And in the process, we will live our lives in an authentic and deeply fulfilling way.

I wish you laughter and learning along the way,