How to avoid the comparison bubble

How to avoid the comparison bubble

It’s easy to get caught up in the comparison bubble. You always want what we don’t have. You are incorrectly taught to copy, just as you’re erroneously taught to think in absolutes.

Celebrate what makes you unique

You should do what makes you unique. You should feel free to steal ideas from other people and build on top of them. Don’t just copy-paste.

The worst nightmare will be looking back on your efforts and thinking we you just couldn’t be yourself.

Being different, standing out, is what should push you on.

If you need more encouragement:

The unique shall inherit the Earth

via giphy

There are three ways to stand out and be remembered:

  1. Be so good that they can’t ignore you.
  2. Be so interesting that they can’t ignore you.
  3. Be so unique that they can’t ignore you.

Talent is usually enough, but everyone can take a great picture. Technology and the internet leveled the playing field.

Grabbing attention can be fleeting. Remember the digital tenet that new things get consumed and forgotten.

But what cements you in someone else’s memory is acting remarkably daring and different.

In a world of masses, it pays to go micro. But the loopholes in individuality are getting smaller and smaller.

Every variety of thought

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Photo by Wells Baum

When we’re young, we’re incorrectly taught to think in absolutes. We apply certainty to everything. The sky is blue. One plus one equals two.

But when we think about it, there are always exceptions and different ways of looking at the obvious. You can stick two pieces of gum together to make one. Says neuroscientist David Eagleman:

“If you could perceive reality as it really is, you would be shocked by its colorless, odorless, tasteless silence.”

We infer the truth based on the probability of our surroundings. But it is in pausing to question the obvious that we stretch our curiosity. If the mind likes to play, let it dance.

The world means nothing without the inquisition of nature.

We’re rhythmic creatures

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gif by Wells Baum

We’re rhythmic creatures. There’s a reason we latch on to each other’s tastes and habits. Emulation begets automation.

But there’s always someone who comes along and challenges our beliefs, unlocking a Pandora’s box of attitudes and topics we never even considered. All of a sudden, everything we deemed to be true goes into question.

The echo chamber calls for cogs of sameness and lookalikes. Once we lose the urge to conform, we are free to rejoice in eccentric delight.

You are the one and only

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Image by Les Anderson

‘Go out into the streets of Paris and pick out a cab driver. He will look to you very much like every other cab driver. But study him until you can describe him so that he is seen in your description to be an individual, different from every other cab driver in the world.”

Guy de Maupassant on the process of finding specific uniqueness in everybody, everything.

Extra|ordinary

Everyone wants to be extraordinary, unusually remarkable, yet most people choose to be extra ordinary because it’s easier and less risky.

There’s nothing wrong with being normal except that it’s boring. Do you like dry toast?

You have to decide. Do you want to blend in with the crowd or do you want to stand out? Your life will probably be easier if you just follow protocol. But you’ll certainly go unnoticed.

Everyone is born extraordinary. It’s the pressure of conformity, of joining a college frat or being a lawyer or a banker, that gouges out all personality.

Phonetically, “extra” ordinary sounds like extraordinary. So you might as well act like your ordinary self, which is just being you.

Scary to be ordinary

  • Show your quirks
  • Embrace individuality
  • Practice creativity

It’s not you’re fault you are who you are and everybody else feigns to be the same. But being different has its own costs: loneliness, misinterpretation, and ridicule. You can’t be like other people because you’re too damn honest.

The easiest people to please will always be others. The hardest person to please will always be yourself. You just have to choose if you want to be ordinary and mediocre or different and significant.

Are You a Commodity?

Are you just another human? If there’s no qualitative difference between you and someone else, it’s going to be impossible to remember your name and point out your uniqueness.

Most people are fungible; we can all fill each other’s roles in jobs and in family. But if we’re all just lemmings capable of the same skills and emotional intelligence we might as well just give up. And I guess that’s why mediocrity happens in the first place.

Step into your own shoes. Why would you choose yourself? Why should we choose you? Be different or become a commodity. Simply said but rarely done.

“Don’t start nothing won’t be nothing.”

For every action there’s a reaction. But don’t provoke someone or something without clear conviction.

If you’re going to ruffle some feathers, do it because you really believe in change. And be willing to take full accountability for your actions.

Unfortunately, you’re not always going to win the fight, and certainly not in the beginning. Snowden called out the NSA for spying on the world and is barred from returning to the United States without a sentencing. Rosa Parks refused to give up her seat to make a statement about segregation yet found herself in jail.

Obedience is the end of freedom. In order to grab attention, you have to be willing to stake your claim and fight. You have to say what others are afraid to discuss; otherwise, things will just keep moving along as they are.

The audacity of hope is also the audacity to provoke.

Provocation ignites a healthy debate, one that gets others thinking differently about their own everyday beliefs.

What do you believe in? Playing it safe guarantees you’ll live a life of anonymity. But if you want to be remembered you’ll start something great and get people to rally behind your cause. We’re all just puzzle pieces trying to do the right thing.

It pays to be different

People complain about athletes, Hollywood actors, and CEOs making a lot of money. But their level of expertise and professionalism are scarce.

You have to have unique skills and meet market demand to get paid big. The majority of us make less because we’re replicable and fungible; there’s always another person with the same skills. But that doesn’t mean the rest of us are just invisible cogs working the system.

Everyone is different. Everyone has one unique skill that no one else has. You may not get paid for it but it makes you stand out from the pack of normals.

Rarely does a unique skill convert into a business opportunity. But that’s art, it’s always ahead of demand. You shouldn’t have to explain your work anyway. The day people get it is the day you give in.

In the meantime, enjoy the freedom to create whatever you want in anonymity. It’s the lemmings that are forgotten.

Remain Skeptical

“All life is an experiment. The more experiments you make the better.” – Ralph Waldo Emerson

Doubt on purpose.  Doubt in order to jump start different thinking and experiment, rising above the ordinary.

Narrow-mindedness is accepting things by default. Life requires diversity which begets progress.

Nevertheless, skepticism is only one step one in redefining existence.

Thinking different is a cop-out if there’s no creative work to back it up.

Skeptics are as equally as responsible as conformists.  They have to convert questioning into viable action. Naturally, the next is doing the work.

It’s not about ideas. It’s about making ideas happen. – Scott Belsky

The biggest hurdle in any creative process though is communicating it effectively and converting the work into sales. Creativity is one part making and equal part commerce.

Making money is art and working is art and good business is the best art. – Andy Warhol

If your work matters, then it’ll probably matter to others as you convince them to share your labor of love.

In summary, here are the steps to maximizing skepticism:

  1. Think Different.
  2. Take positive, creative action.
  3. Communicate effectively.
  4. Sell your idea/art.

Uniqueness is a prompt for action, not an excuse to sit back and mock what’s already been done.

Our lives begin to end the day we become silent about things the matter. – Martin Luther King Jr.