There is an old saying: “remember you’re unique – just like everyone else”. Whilst this is supposed to be amusing, it also covers a very important point.
I am unique – there is only one person who is exactly like me. There is no one else that has had just this set of life experiences. Not only are my fingerprints unique, so is everything else about my physical and emotional make up.
At the same time, I’m just like everyone else – I need to breathe eat and sleep just like everyone else. I’m very similar to anyone else brought up in a suburb of a major capital city: I’ve listened to the same music, watched the same TV programs, and lived through the same events.
So how do we resolve this unique/same issue?
Well, in my life I’ve made the same mistakes that other people have made – only I did them in my way. I’ve found joy in the same sort of things that others do – but I found my own joy in them, and did not experience other people’s feeling.
To a casual observer, my life and relationships will look the same as countless other people who share my gender and general physical make up. But that is only superficially true, because all of the assumptions about my life are based on your experience of living your life.
An example of this is the medium I’m using here – the written word. If you are reading this you and I share the same basic language, we can both read and write English. But we bring our own personalities to the written word – I write this in one way, and you would write the self-same thing in different words.
Even more interesting, you and I can read the same thing and get different meanings from it, depending on our own experience with a certain word, or a certain meaning. My understanding of any word will be shaped by my experience of that word in the past, which will be different from anyone else’s experiences of it.
This is the great thing we need to remember – we don’t really live in an objective reality – the world we live in is experienced through a filter – the filter of our own experiences and assumptions.
And this is the real reason we are all unique – because we all live in our own universe – a world that we have created from the sum total of our experiences.