Choosing Authenticity

Choose to be yourself over being different

Mahika Kanchanam, Lifestyle Editor

As a writer I’m constantly on a hunt to write about something that has never been written before. A story that is completely original. It took me a while to realize that “completely original” is completely impossible. In fact, a Psychology Today article states, “creating something totally new is exceptionally rare.” This statement seems like an obvious one, but it slips most of our minds when we’re in the process of looking for new ideas. 

It’s important to understand that this desire to be the “one and only” actually becomes a barrier to good pieces of work. Continuing a never ending search for something never done before stops us from starting a piece of writing or a new project. 

Part of the problem is that the concept of praising the unique and brushing aside the ordinary is reinforced in workplaces and schools. According to a 2021 article in the Emory Wheel, education and work systems constantly pressure us to be the “one” student or the “one” candidate. We constantly hear the question: What makes you different? 

I often have found myself under a great pressure to be the most unique in the room. This idea started to drive every small decision I made, from buying shoes that no one else had to listening to music that no one else listened to. I was taking actions that made me stand out rather than taking actions that showed people who I really am. Reflecting back on your decisions, maybe you’ve done the same.

What’s the answer? We should start aiming for authenticity rather than originality. “Just be yourself” seems like a simple solution to this problem, but it’s not as easy as it seems. PsychCentral states, “Humans have a need to belong and feeling accepted is calming.” This feeling can make it hard for us to be our true selves as we search for validation from others. 

We can start by allowing ourselves to be inspired. When you look at something and think, “I wish I would’ve come up with that,” you’re seeing an idea as one that couldn’t be your own, instead of an idea that you can make your own. It’s okay to build off of other’s ideas. Allow the work of creators you look up to to spill into your own. That’s how we learn and grow. 

We also need to realize that being “unoriginal” can be a good thing. When ideas are restated and reintroduced in our world, it makes the idea important and impactful. Topics like gender rights and racial inequality are talked about over and over again. It’s not right to say that these topics become less valuable because they are talked about too much. Infact, restatement actually gives these topics more value and understanding. 

So next time you start a new project or a new story, don’t be afraid to repeat an old idea. Just start working and see where a “not so original idea” might take you.