WHAT MAKES YOU AN INDIVIDUAL?
Dee Chadwick
02 May 2021
What is that certain je ne sais quois that makes you different from others? The thing that makes others realise the uniqueness of you as a person, a one-off, someone who stands out in a crowd, who stands out from a crowd. Just what is it that makes this so?

THAT LITTLE FELLOW IN THE PICTURE

 

 

That little bundle of feathers that always seem to look awry. He may be Scruffy by name as well as scruffy by nature, but he has won the hearts of many. I am on a Facebook page which contains many fantastic  pictures of birds. I never cease to be amazed at the beauty of so many, to learn of species I have not seen before – and to be impressed by the skill of the photographers. My attempts would be a small blob, that was probably also fuzzy as my hands had shaken. A blob that was unrecognisable as a bird, let alone an identifiable species of bird.

Then there is Scruffy. A beautiful and certainly an individual little robin. One who goes about the business of feeding his family, taking an occasional bath, simply being a robin. I wonder if he realises just how individual, how special a robin he is as he has so many people who respond to him when the photographer, Jaye, posts his picture - and she has taken around nine hundred, so lots to share.   He even has his own Instagram account. I imagine not many other garden birds can boast of this! He may look different, but in all other ways he seems to be ‘just a robin’. So, what makes him so special to people, rather than simply being dismissed as a scruffy little oik as his human equivalent could well have been? Is it that he seems to look unique that makes him that individual? Something that the rest of us haven’t seen the likes of – whereas we have probably seen plenty of scruffy people around ( I only have to look in the mirror when in my gardening kit!) as well as plenty of what we would call ordinary, ‘run of the mill’ robins who are just as inquisitive, just as busy. I wonder what they think of Scruffy? Sadly, when I communicated with Jaye, this little fellow hadn’t put in an appearance in her garden so far this year.

WHAT OF WE HUMANS?

What makes us stand out from being run of the mill, ordinary? I looked at what defines us in a previous blog ‘Just what defines you’. As with Scruffy, I now consider just what makes us special. What makes others think – ooh, aah or an occasional wow – sometimes going as far as saying this out loud.  Sometimes it will be those people who are deemed to have that certain ‘star quality’, though for me, ‘star’ is a word which has become very much over-used. Those known for simply being know, or for having appeared on television, maybe a few months playing a role in one of the soaps – as in simply doing their job as an actor. I am probably not so easily led to ooh or ahh! Though I understand that there have been people in Derbyshire who have been oohing and ahhing recently as Tom Cruise has been seen around filming the latest ‘Mission Impossible’ movie. Sadly for them though, probably the only actual sighting they will ever have of him, apart from on the screen, includes his anti-COVID mask.   

With many such stars, it is those looks of theirs that make them stand out as an individual. Whether they be outstandingly beautiful or handsome according to the viewer. It is often the person who isn’t what we would call classically attractive who appeals. Their dimples - that direct the smile from their mouth up to their eyes. Their physique that fits the bill for us.  Though, for many, myself included, it comes down to the person that they actually are rather than the person they portray, though this is usually the only aspect of their personality that we see. Their ability to act. On screen – whether formally acting or when being ‘interviewed’, usually in reference to their work. It is only for the few that we get to see other aspects of the person. The likes of Angelina Jolie and her humanitarian work; though hopefully, there are many who do work in support of others about which we rarely hear.

WHAT CAN MAKE US SPECIAL?

What are the things that make people remember you when you leave the room or turn to you as you enter? The things that they remember about you, for good or ill. I wonder what you feel people would remember about you? Would this be different in different settings – social, work, casual meetings? Probably, as we show different aspects of ourselves in different situations. Whilst, given human nature, our initial impact usually relies on those looks of ours – our physical attributes as well as how we dress, many other factors come into play in tandem or following on the heels of what people see.

What of your personality?

I am sure that we have all met people who show personality traits that either make us feel that we want to get to know them better, or have an urge to exit stage left pretty damn quickly. Their personality could be the dominating factor even ahead of looks.

An individual’s personality is something that is moulded from the moment we are born – or does this even begin in utero I wonder? I am writing a separate piece on personality, to follow shortly, as it affects so many aspects of our lives and is something that I find fascinating. Aspects of your personality that affect your uniqueness – and don’t forget, we are all unique beings finding our way amongst the billions of other unique beings. How I would love to be able to take on a mantle of invisibility in order to watch people without my watching affecting them in any way. Think that would be my chosen superpower.

What of your attitudes?

I have to say that people with very forthright attitudes, especially those unwilling to at least listen to other viewpoints is a huge turn off for me. Those whose mission is to evangelise, or hold a political briefing at a social gathering leap to mind. A very different breed from those who know a lot and are happy to share, but not to feel that there is a need to force feed us with their knowledge. When training to be a teacher, we used to work on knowledge and understanding. The over-sharers  may have the knowledge, but lack the understanding of how their over-zealous sharing can make others feel. This can lead to a path being cleared in front of them as they enter a room, or for those gathered around them having a sudden need to get a drink or visit the bathroom! Throw in the over-exuberantly happy or the extremely moany, negative folk for good measure and more need for that drinks escape.

Our attitudes, our personality are affected by people, events, places that we interact with or simply observe – be these in the past, present or future expectations. Some of these factors are highlighted in a recent article in power of positivity.com entitled 6 Surprising Things That Make You Unique. 6 Surprising Things That Make You Unique | 6 Minute Read (powerofpositivity.com)These are included in the following, very much inter-linked aspects of self –

 Our perspectives - as ‘only you have lived in your shoes, seen things from your angle, and experienced life uniquely as you.’ An ability to listen to and hear others’ opinions allow this aspect of self to be a work in progress.

Our sense of humour -This is a part of ‘me’ that is important to me. I am aware that I use humour, especially to lighten situations. My humour can be quirky and self-deprecating, so there are times when I feel a need to set it temporarily on that old back burner. I very much see this as one of my quirks that has been honed over many years of working with children!

Our roots - where and how we were raised have been shown to affect not only our IQ, but all areas of our intelligence and attitudes to life. Not that what is perceived as a ‘bad start in life’ cannot be turned around, as I was a witness to in my twenty years of working with survivors of childhood abuse. Both nature and nurture play a part in this.

How people deal with past or current trauma is very much unique to them. For some, the place in which they grew up and how this happened can be the trigger to move onwards and upwards, whilst for others, they accept their lot as something destined for their present - and future - as it was their past. It is part of their identity.

Our ethnicity and culture – obviously tied in with our roots. As stated in the article – ‘what things from these backgrounds do you bring with you into your life today?’ I am leaning on a very open door here, with insufficient space to cover in depth in this piece. Suffice it to say that when these aspects of humanity are embraced, then lives are enriched; otherwise, we are all aware of the dreadful hatred and division can occur.

Our age and gender – often overlooked aspects of our uniqueness. There are those who think of me as old, whilst I usually don’t – unless I have overdone the sawing of the logs for next winter! Yes, I now have grey hair and wrinkles aplenty, but I feel that my attitudes are not affected by my birth date. I admit to getting annoyed when I am set aside simply because of my age – or is that truely the reason? A reason I give myself as it is more easily accepted than other aspects of me that some may see as wanting?

Our spirituality and beliefs – Do you have a religion? Do you include prayer or meditation in your life? Do you have firmly held political views, opinions?  For some, these are a large part of what makes them the individual that they are. It can also be a reason for others to turn away if conversations are not two-way.

Our interests – hobbies, pastimes, sporting activities help confirm your uniqueness. Are they shared or individual experiences calling for patience, artistic talent, technical ability - possibly an ability to sing – be that in a choir or amongst a crowd of football supporters. Even in such a crowd, you retain your uniqueness.

JUST CONSIDER YOU.

It can be a combination of the factors mentioned above that make you the unique individual that you are. Do they make you an in at the deep end or a dip your toe into the shallow end of life person? Is your life constantly run at full pelt or do you err on the side of a more softly, softly, slowly, slowly approach? Do you consider things to be black and white or multi various shades of grey? Do you have lots of quirks and foibles; habits that attract or annoy? Questions that we may not ask ourselves, but which benefit from a little self-scrutiny.

Of all the many aspects of you, it could come down to just one of them that seems to be responsible for you feeling or being perceived as a unique individual, be that nature or nurture based. Whatever, do not forget that you ARE that wonderful, unique individual with your place in this world of ours. So, hold your head up high, grab life by the scruff of the neck and be proud of who and what you are – quirks, foibles, strengths, weaknesses and all.

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