Whether it is our culture or the natural bent of the personality, most of us are plagued by an almost unquenchable thirst for being deemed special.
We openly, or secretly, long to feel and be perceived as exceptional, distinctive, matchless, great, remarkable, original, inimitable, irreplaceable, or rare.
The last thing most of us want to feel or be seen as is ordinary, a part of the crowd, commonplace, regular, everyday, run of the mill, average, mundane, mediocre, undistinguished, unremarkable, humdrum, pedestrian, dull, or unoriginal.
The positive benefits of being special and of being ordinary are often lost in the game of striving for the one you think is better than the other.
The difficulty with achieving your specialness is that once achieved, it does indeed set you apart from others. Specialness by its nature deems you different from everyone else. However, being special often generates envy, and frequently misunderstanding to the point of evoking jealousy and animosity. People deemed special often end up feeling alone, removed, poles apart from everyone else, and disconnected.
Ordinariness, by its nature, deems you the same as everyone else – an everyman, free to live easy and slow. Yet, people deemed ordinary often end up feeling unseen, unrecognized, lonely, frustrated and discarded, or just one more body in a crowd.
Whichever position you choose, strive for, or find yourself in, can leave you feeling separated and set apart from the whole – perhaps a surprising but definitely unsatisfying situation.
Managing The Dilemma
How to manage this conundrum?
The heart yearns to simply be an ordinary human being – to lay down the drive to be special and to just have fun, relax, be carefree and happy. Yet, the heart also craves to express itself in its own way – to paint a unique and purposeful brushstroke across the sky.
Once we cease to set up one way of Being as better than the other, we can embrace the full circle of both desires beating in our heart – the desire to rest and to act – to be and to do – to stand out as individual and to also be embraced as an equal member of a larger whole.
To accomplish this feat, simply remember special and ordinary are two sides of the same coin. When you find yourself clinging to either side, find the edge or the rim of this coin, and set up housekeeping there. From that vantage point, you can watch and feel the movement back and forth between the two – enjoying the wonder of your uniqueness and the comfort of your ordinariness.
Give it a try. When you tire of being different, relax into being commonplace. When you’re bored with being one of the whole, slip inside the urge to express yourself as no-one else can. Special and ordinary are like the in-breath and the out-breath of the creative urge. You can’t have one without the other.
Enjoy exploring the organic unity of these two complementary needs designed to unfold in perfect harmony, again and again.