I don’t know about you, but I am tired of hearing the word “Unique.”
That’s not to say there’s anything wrong with the word, or the concept. But I’m tired of hearing the word itself. Honestly, I feel the same way about the word ‘community’ in any religious context. It has run the course of a buzz word, and it has been pecked to death. It is time to leave “unique” alone, so it can recover from exhaustion.
Every so often, there are words which get picked up, and everyone uses them, and then they move onto the next one. “Unique” is one that’s been hanging on for a while, and it should. We are a very individualistic society as a whole; after generations of working for the good of mankind, most of us are okay with the idea we are going to play by ourselves.
So why bring up “unique?”
I had my final exams one day in my ELA class. Since we’ve been talking about stories, and most of them are in my creative writing and screenwriting classes, I asked them to think of a story from their own life and turn it into a storyline. If you’re not familiar with storyline, it’s a one-sentence description of a story (like a book or movie).
One of my students wrote how he was a “struggling teenager trying to figure out his life but faced with the obstacles of fearing rejection and disappointing others.”
Secretly, I wanted to hug him and tell him it would be all right. I did the latter anyway.
I wish you could see this kid. He’s at the top of his class, he’s a very polite and funny young man, and he has all the reasons in the world to be a snob about something if he wants to be. And he is worried about disappointing his teachers and parents. That’s any parent or teacher’s dream kid, right there. I think everything will turn out all right for him.
When I was a teenager, I was pretty afraid of disappointing people, too – or so I thought at the time.
I’ve come to see that I liked trying to live up to other people’s expectations. It gives me someone else to blame if I fail; after all, if it is not something I really want, then I won’t care as much if I do fail, and like I said, having someone to take the blame is a big lure for me.
Now I am trying to be more true to myself, and no listen to other people’s ideas of who I should be.
And it’s hard.
Once, I told my one school counselor I wanted to write for television and movies and she laughed at me. I supposed at the time it was because a lot of people tell her that, because it seems like a dream job when you’re on the outside. But I finished up my master’s with a concentration in screenwriting, and, in addition to my books, I loved it. I wanted to do it more and make money doing it.
And she laughed. I’d read McKee’s Story like it was a dissertation on my soul.
And she laughed at me.
I have to ignore people like that, especially since I had a pretty informed platform to make my decision on. I still teach, and I still write, and I still edit stuff for a living. But I want to work up to the point where I can do what I want with my life, make money to support me and my family doing it, and I know that’s what I want to do now.
And if I fail, I know I can keeping trying, or find a new dream.
There’s only one me. There’s only one you. And we get our lives to decide what kind of people we want to be, and we have plenty of time to work up to showing others what kind of people we are by what we do.