Songs, movies, books, news. All of these media promote and idolize uniqueness. We love unique individuals and flock to the movies to see stories of a rule breaker, a superhero, or an underdog. We soak up news of an individual who never quite fit into society, but their unique view has led to huge breakthroughs (Elon Musk, JK Rowling, Nikolai Tesla).
To be clear, I define unique as someone who does not like the standard way of doing things or sees a problem in a different way than most people. We also idolize people who are faster, stronger, smarter, or more creative than average. However, the greatness dilemma is a conversation for another post. This time, I want to focus on those who break the mold. People who go in the opposite direction from the crowd. You may refer to their work as avant-garde...
Alright, so we've discussed what a unique individual is and also acknowledged that we idolize them. Now, allow me to point out that there is a huge contradiction the world presents to us. Most of the world restricts creativity and forces us into molds (standards). There is good reason for these standards, or at least good intentions behind these standards. If you are on a college admissions board, you want to asses applicants on their ability to succeed at your university. This is very difficult if everyone hands you different credentials and tries to argue why they would be a good fit in different ways. As such, we have standard high school diplomas and standard GPA scales in order to make it easy to prove that you could be a successful student.
Now, time for the problem. We aspire to be different and unique. We aspire to change the world and break the mold. Most of the world restricts creativity and forces us into molds. We go through the traditional education system, take standardized tests, file into standard jobs. See the contradiction? So, can we be unique in an unoriginal world? Of course. That doesn't mean it is easy.
For Those Who Like Standards
There is a way that we can make it easier, encourage unique individuals, and come up with novel solutions to old problems. The best part, it is simple. There is no need to file petitions or go on Facebook to rant, rave, and yell. Instead, I suggest that each individual tries to be more open to new ideas. The next time you see something strange or think someone is approaching a situation in the "wrong" way, stay open.
I am not suggesting that we should let all the rules be broken or accept sub-par work just because it is new. Remember the definition of avant-garde includes the word experimental. People should be allowed to experiment with new methods and ideas, but that doesn't mean they will always work.
For Those Who Aspire To Break The Mold
You will fail over and over again. Do not let this get you down and do not complain about the system being rigged. Sometimes you will be rejected because people don’t understand your uniqueness, but sometimes it is because you’re just not very good yet. Keep practicing and keep improving. Stay original, continue to improve, and keep trying. See my above note about experimenting.
Now it is your turn. Do you aspire to break the mold? Do you think the traditional (unoriginal) way is better? Other opinions on the issue?