To rebel against convention by trying to be “anti-conventional” is still to be defined by it. For, you continue to anchor to the very thing you supposedly wish to distance yourself from. You derive your identity in opposition to it and thus in very close relation to it. What then lies behind the desire to be different?
Desire to be different
The desire to be “different” has the fundamental conceptual problem of needing a comparator — being different to something. But, that’s not all. It is very often linked to status and identity, feeling part of some in-group, or not being part of some out-group. Being different can then easily become about climbing some status ladder, where you choose a particular indicator of difference to focus on. And, that may be pro-a-thing or anti-a-thing.
All this is of course basic to our nature. We see difference, like to categorise things and build narratives around them. But this can deeply affect how we relate to ourselves at a very fundamental level. We might believe the quite arbitrary narrative that we only have value if we accomplish certain ‘special’ things. Such that we spend our whole lives seeking those things. Categorising some things as special and others as ordinary, we start to doubt our own self-worth for not doing these special things. So, we spend all our days seeking and seeking, but never finding.
For its own sake
True contentment is really to be found in doing things for their own sake. Regardless of if they are deemed special or not — I mean who decides, anyway? Perhaps, what truly makes something special is full and wholehearted engagement in it? Doing it for the sheer joy. Full engagement in a thing means that the whole question of being different and special falls away. For, there is no time and need for it. You immerse yourself in the process one-hundred-percent.
To worry about questions of difference, means not quite truly engaging with the thing. And that ‘thing’ may be as narrow as a hobby, or as wide as the entire realm of existence. If there is anything ‘different’ in all this, it is about letting-go of the need to be different!
It will be what it will be.
Harsha is a 1:1 coach and independent thinker based in London. He empowers people to find more clarity, confidence and focus in their lives — to cut through the noise, in a world so full of it. Harsha’s new book, Machine Ego: Tragedy of the Modern Mind, is now available in paperback and Kindle through Amazon.