I have always wondered, “What is this thirst for uniqueness, and why does almost every person crave to be ‘special’ and different from everyone else?”
I see this especially in teenagers, in what other people — most likely adults — call “phases.” For example, I see teenagers bragging about how they don’t listen to mainstream music and how they are more into the more obscure genres of music, like classical or indie, as if to say, “Hey, doesn’t that make me special and different from other people my age?” If I were in the teenager’s shoes, my only motivation to do this would be that, to appear unique from this horde of ‘normal’ people. “Look how special I am!”
I admit, I bet I was kind of like this in my younger years, too, especially since in my high school years, I mistyped as an Enneagram 4, which is all about being “unique.” (It turns out that I am an Enneagram 9.) But why did I want to be different? Now I think that it doesn’t really matter if I’m different from someone or not. So what if I’m unique? How does that benefit me as a person? As a human being? It will only have an impact on me if I consider my uniqueness as something important to my being.
Let’s see: what does uniqueness bring to someone? A sense of self. Aha, so it is about having a definition of yourself. Now it makes sense that it happens to teenagers a lot and most obviously, because it is during adolescence that you discover who you are, what you are. It is when you build yourself from the ground up. When it comes down to it, there really is nothing wrong with wanting to be unique, because it is normal. Then, uniqueness is good!
But why do people need to brag about their uniqueness?
See, this is what I find interesting. Being unique isn’t good enough; some people have this need to show it off. Personally, and it is somewhat obvious, it is a sign of insecurity. I said that the crave for uniqueness is something normal to experience, but if it is coupled with the crave to be recognized — in an extreme sense — as unique, what does that mean? Personally, I think it mostly happens to people with a weak sense of self, and showing off how unique and special they are is how they compensate for what they lack. Someone self-assured would not feel the need to do this. If a person knows that he or she is this way or that — in this specific situation, if a person knows that he or she is unique — then he or she should no longer feel the need to prove anything. He or she is already confident about himself or herself! “I know who I am, and there is nothing to prove.” Your opinion of yourself is the only thing that matters. No matter what anyone else says, you should be unshakeable.
Of course, no one is perfect. And I’m sure it takes a lot of reflection and self-awareness for a person to get to that point.
This applies to other things about the self, too — confidence, self-esteem — not just uniqueness. They are all interconnected.
More interestingly, it also applies to how one views other people. For instance, there is this person that you really like, and you have elevated him or her really up high. I have personally experienced this. I felt the need to “exalt” this person every chance I get, basically to reaffirm to myself my good opinion of him/her, and every time I hear anyone say anything negative about this person, I was immediately on the defensive. I felt really uncomfortable, and since I didn’t know “the truth,” since my opinion was shaky, and I elevated this person on the pedestal so much, I was too affected by the comments of other people, and I always felt the need to “defend” my opinions for the sake of reaffirming them. When time came that I finally had the opportunity to experience “the truth” — what this person is — for myself, confirming all my shaky opinions from before (so then they lost their shakiness), I no longer felt as threatened by other people’s comments. Why? Because I know the truth and no longer felt the need to prove it. I had confidence, finally.
…Just a little anecdote, and a robust example.
So, as you can obviously see, it is overcompensation.
Someone said it in a video with the hipster analogy. Being “hipster” is “being cool,” so everybody suddenly wanted to be hipsters, and they labeled themselves and “made” themselves to be so. Meanwhile, the actual hipsters don’t even know that they are hipsters and have no idea what’s going on.
By the way, I would just like to say, my approach to these things — ideas — are impersonal. I’m not attacking anyone; this is just my observation with my analyses. I just want to put it out there. 🙂