What is it about words attributed to Albert Einstein that make me sit up straight and listen? He is more likely to grab my attention than a bizarre hybrid of E. F. Hutton, Martha Stewart, and Jillian Michaels.
Maybe it's the fact that he's touted as not only an intellectual genius but also a philosopher, humanitarian, lover of women, avid bicyclist, creative thinker, etc. He was a well rounded (if slightly wacky) human being who seemed to have a knack for cutting to the quick of a body of knowledge and finding the essential truth hidden within. The reasons why certain facts matter in the universe. I mean, even people who will never study out Relativity can find a way to thread it into a world view.
Okay, so apparently I feel the need to justify my affinity for Einstein wisdom. It's not like we're quoting gospel here, or even Chuck Norris, and it's not like I can personally verify that old Alberto even said any of the stuff I regurgitate. There is plenty of room here for both debate and criticism, as always. But still, he was smart, man. Like, Jeopardy smart.
Anyway I discovered the poster above on my favorite new eye candy site and had to share it with you. Maybe you've heard the words before, but isn't the illustration fabulous? It really drives home the point that diversity is a GOOD thing and that we are meant to be OURSELVES, not someone else. Indeed, that striving to be someone else is wasteful, futile, and perhaps even fatal. Haven't our parents, guidance counselors, and after-school specials been saying this, like, forever?
Maybe so, except that eventually we get all homogenized and template-driven again, and before long we're playing the toxic games of comparison. Which lead to either pride or despair, neither of which is healthy.
I personally, despite all of my bohemian tendencies, fall prey to those wicked games of comparison all too often. I have spent years hating myself for not being a college graduate, a tennis player, or a person filled with the Holy Ghost. I have hated myself for things within my control and without, running the gamut of possible topics from higher math skills to family relationships.
Recently I started loathing myself for the fact that I will never be a trendy, scrap-booking, home-schooling Mom. Heck, I'm not likely to even be a car-pooling Mom ever again. That SUCKS, and it makes me hate myself a lot.
Over the years I have frequently questioned whether anything was left in me that couldn't be found in other people, and WAY, WAY BETTER.* You know something? All of this dark thinking is startlingly universal. We can all find reasons to detest the people we were born to be or have become.
Even in small doses, this kind of mindset is incredibly poisonous. Aiming our thoughts and the undercurrent of our imaginations toward what others are accomplishing and how we seem to fall short will definitely affect the momentum of life. We may escape saturated despair, if we're lucky, but our passion is unavoidably diluted. Our potential is stunted by having siphoned off energy and creativity and love in favor of feelings of either inadequacy or superiority. Again, I assert that these two sentiments are equally destructive. They are opposite symptoms of the same ailment.
What's the absolute minimum fallout? Oceans of missed opportunities. Untold discoveries and eurekas missed because we are so busy seeking after someone else's destiny that we neglect our own.
Even in efforts to distinguish ourselves, we can fall short. We look for examples of what to do and how to do it rather than striking out and doing something that is from the wellspring of our own souls. And yes, granted, our souls or personalities are composites of our accumulated experiences, but no two lives are identical! Whatever similarities we discover in each other, how ever much common ground we tread, diversity and uniqueness pervade the human condition, it is MEANT to be that way, and I really really really wish we would all stop overlooking that.
Right now, if Handsome is reading this, he's thinking, "Then stop reading Pinterest and that one blog about the cowboy's wife who cooks other people's recipes that you know drives me insane in the membrane! Be yourself!"
He's so crazy. Doesn't he know by now that I'm a hypocrite?
This weekend a good friend of mine said it so perfectly, though in jest: "I wanna be unique just like everybody else!" Seems like the context then was copycatting teenagers who wear jelly sandals, but really full grown women do it too. And men. Copy each other, not wear jellies. Although they did make a brief comeback two years ago.
So the next time you start to notice a difference between you and someone you admire and you feel like scraping your inferior forehead against a concrete brick, instead shrug your capable shoulders and say to your heart, "True Dat." And smile. Because you are meant to be different. You are meant to be you. So get to being that, because the universe is counting on it. We've been waiting on YOU long enough.
* This is no way a cry for help or a solicitation for affirming words, just a perspective-rich observation of my own life, offered up for your examination. Things are pretty groovy these days, and I know that even if I am never again a traditional lunch box-packing, home work-checking Mom, what remains is what is eternal. What remains, as always, is love.