July 26, 2009

Do I like being different?

What comfort there is in knowing that others are the same. That they go through the same struggles. Yet how lame and pitiful it seems, simply nodding your head in assent, without anything new to share.

How harsh and bitter it is to be viewed as an outsider. To be scorned is bad, but to be envied is worse it seems. Perhaps if I showed off less, asked fewer questions, or concealed more of my knowledge, less dissention would be aroused.

How pleasurable it is to be praised, to be set apart. To be rewarded and recognized for standing out. But does this admiration carry with it whispers of pride on my part, and jealousy on the part of others?

Love requires connection. I think. Or perhaps relating to others is part of love. And I think that something in common is necessary to love. So to love, I have to have to be similar to others.

Or no? Is similarity just necessary to be identified with, to be connected with, to be loved? Does connection simply benefit myself?

I take joy in the fact that people are the same. We are all human, we share a conscience. And I feel even more at home with other Christians, and so on as people share increasing levels of experiences and interests and desires and philosophies with me.

I scoff at people who try to elevate me. Or do I? Do I only mind it when every person's self-esteem is elevated, when everyone is told that they're unique? But why should I mind being different if I truly am? Everyone is unique, everyone is different. But everyone is the same.

Now I'm confused. People have much in common. There is also much that we differ in. Everyone wants to feel like they belong. But everyone wants to feel that they are something special. Are both wants selfish? Are both wants natural? Oh dear, is this simply becoming a cooperation (love, acceptance, similarity, belonging) versus competition (success, independence, intelligence, undivided praise) debate?


Hayley said...

Hahah, wow Rebecca, I have all these thoughts acting like pinballs in my head now. Prepare for a nonsensical, disjointed, rant-y comment. :P

"Love requires connection." Yes. Or, I like the word unity better, I think. At the last supper, Jesus prayed for his disciples, that they would have unity, and it's one of the most necessary things in the world. "So to love, I have to have to be similar to others." No. You don't have to be _like_ others to connect with them. A lot of the time we connect with people who are not similar to us at all. Similarities are irrelevant, I think, in the face of all the other stuff we have in common - like you said, humanness. If we couldn't connect on this basic level, unity would be impossible.

We are all the same, I see this far more readily than how people are different. Some days I have a hard time believing people are indeed different. :P [I've been thinking about the Western emphasis on individualism, and how it contrasts with Eastern traditionalism and community, too, and I haven't reached any conclusions, but this post reminded me of it, in general.]

I think wanting to "fit in" is a misplaced desire for community that's self-focused. I think wanting to "stand out" is a misplaced desire for attention and distinction. Basically, people are selfish [the same] but contrasting ways [different.]

It doesn't matter if we are affirmed or cut down by the people around us, though. It doesn't matter at all what our reputation or our image is. It doesn't matter if we fit in with the crowd, or if we stand out. It matters if we are who God wants us to be. That's all. It's so simple, but I have so much trouble wrapping my mind around it. But I think, sameness/being different is overrated. In every sense.