Mediocre. Ordinary. Average.
Describing someone with one of these adjectives is always meant as an insult. No one wants to be known as a cog in the machine, standard issue, one of many. From the moment a person becomes aware of their individuality, we strive to be thought of as special and figure out how to be rare.
But what if – after a lot of self-reflection and effort – you realize that who you are isn’t rare? What if being special is always just out of reach, but you can’t accept it? When it’s impossible to stand out among the innovators, the visionaries and the trailblazers, how can you become the main character instead of being a NPC in a side quest?
The answer is simple: you must be absolutely, completely, unequivocally true to yourself. There’s only one of you, so you’re the most unique when you’re genuine. When you’re living your most authentic life, you’re a rare species. When you’re real, that’s when you are out of the ordinary.
How To Be Rare When You’re Just You (In 8 Steps)
Someone who’s unusual in a good way is known as a rare breed. But isn’t this just someone’s opinion? Maybe someone else wouldn’t see this apparently rare person as anything special because they’ve met someone similar already or their views of what positive personality traits are is different.
But whose judgment is correct? There aren’t really any objective ways to determine this with complete certainty. But if you had to choose who to believe, you’d pick the person whose values align with your own and you’d be inclined to trust their views.
So cut the middle man and decide for yourself: what is it that you consider extraordinary and exceptional? And more importantly, how to be rare in ways that are meaningful to you, so that you can feel good about your place in the world.
You know you have more to give to the world, now you must find your superpower, the rarest thing about you that separates you from the crowd.
1. Know yourself
You’ve heard this a million times. This aphorism is believed to have been inscribed at the Temple of Apollo at Delphi at least 4000 years ago, so it’s no wonder it’s become overused to the point that it sounds meaningless. Repeating this phrase without explanation is of no use – how to actually get to know yourself?
• Be honest
It’s hard, but you must start here. The challenge doesn’t lie in the process, but in what you will find. Be honest with yourself.
If there was a simple checklist of likes and dislikes, fears and wants, or hopes and dreams to complete without having to experience what it all means, it would be easy. But to know yourself, you must face yourself.
If you want to discover your rare qualities that make you uncommon, you must face your flaws and your shame. If you’re honest with yourself, you’ll find a lot. All of those things you don’t like about yourself that you pretend don’t exist. The insecurities you try to make up for. The distorted beliefs you hold for better self-image.
• Face yourself
No one wants to be mean, prejudiced, or arrogant, so we like to assume that we’re not. We find excuses for our actions that don’t align with what we believe about ourselves. For example, if you consider being rude a true flaw – and not one of those faux-flaws that are really strengths – you’ll find a way to justify it to yourself every time you act in a rude manner.
You, like everyone else, delude yourself in some measure: you downplay your shortcomings and exaggerate the desirable qualities you want to possess. This is simply human nature.
Recognizing when someone else’s actions are problematic is not a problem, because you judge them by the effect of their actions. Conversely, you judge yourself by your intentions. Because you want to be good, you assume that you are.
• Ask around
So how to challenge these self-concepts that might be holding you back? Start by asking the people who know you to tell you what you’re like.
Our loved ones often see us the most clearly and understand us on a level that’s unique to them. They’ve seen us in a variety of situations, so they’re not making a superficial judgment. On the other hand, their perception isn’t clouded by the need to please the ego like our own.
Your family and your best friends see you from the outside, but unlike someone who has only one impression of you, they have a lot of information. They don’t know your motivations, but they know a lot of things that you don’t, such as your body language, your expressions and your reactions. They can give you a clearer picture of what you’re like.
• Get some distance
Take a step back to find yourself. Introspection, journaling, self-help books or insightful podcasts are helpful, but if you only use this kind of approach, you might get lost in your head. You already know things about yourself. You know what you’re lying to yourself about and what you want to appear as.
To be able to observe yourself without having your view clouded by your feelings, let go of analysis by practicing mindfulness. Mindfulness is nothing but living in the moment, letting things be as they are without placing value on them. If you don’t place moral judgment on your thoughts, they become more acceptable.
When you’re able to look at yourself as you are and not as you wish to be, you’ll realize your own uniqueness. Getting rid of society’s expectations that make people chase the next milestone they’re supposed to reach will set you free.
• Find your heart’s desire
So why is it important to know yourself? If you want to make your mark in the world and distinguish yourself, your goals have to come from a place of passion. Otherwise, even if you reach what you set out to achieve, you will never stand out because your heart wasn’t in it.
Once you’re able to pinpoint your true desires, you won’t waste time on what other people have made you think you want and you can set goals that are actually important to you. Inspire yourself.
Different cultures have different ideas of what constitutes success, but if your personal motives don’t correspond to what you’ve been taught to reach for, you’ll spend your entire life living someone else’s dream.
Working hard in a career which brings money and power means nothing if your dream is to find a cure for a rare disease or to be a co-founder of an art colony with your significant other. Knowing yourself is what helps you make better decisions and become a better person on your own terms.
Only then can you stand up and make a difference, and this is truly rare.
2. Passion, passion, passion
Are you bored of hearing this? If you’ve ever read anything about personal development, the only thing that’s talked about more than knowing yourself is finding your passion and purpose. So why repeat it once (three times) again, considering we just spoke about recognizing your heart’s desire?
Because it’s just that important. It’s the second condition for standing out. When you know who you are and what you want, only then can you be authentic – and being authentic is how to be rare. Everything in life can be done if you care about it.
Think of something that most people consider difficult that you managed to achieve easily. Something that was so easy, in fact, that you don’t want to admit to people how not big of a deal it was. Do you know why you succeeded? Because you wanted to.
On the other hand, you probably failed at something much easier simply because you didn’t really care.
Will is underrated. Desire gives you drive that makes effort seem like fun. You want something badly, passionately, with all your heart? You’re going to get it; because taking steps to achieve it is nothing compared to your end goal. Make reality better than your dreams.
This is why it’s so important to know who you are and what you want – once you do, you’re halfway there.
3. Ignore limits
Limits are restrictions. They tell you what’s possible and what isn’t, they tell you what’s acceptable and what isn’t. It’s not important who came up with these limits and why, although the answer to both of these questions is almost always ‘whoever benefited from them’.
Most people never question the limits imposed on them, but have the audacity to look down on those who reject them. They take certain things as a given and anyone who refuses to follow what they’ve been told to follow is considered a fool, weird or inappropriate.
If you’ve ever been told that you’re too short or too weak to play a sport, too young or too old to do or accomplish something, too pretty, too ugly, too fat, too poor, that it’s not for women, for someone with your background, level of education, experience or any other convention you’ve been led to believe is true, you know what limits truly are: prejudice.
Refuse to be determined by what someone deems acceptable for you that makes no sense. Don’t accept things as a given and don’t apologize for following your dreams.
4. Break the rules
The only concept worse than imaginary limitations are rules without substance. Don’t misunderstand – breaking rules doesn’t mean breaking laws. It means breaking molds, habits and ranks. It means breaking out of your shell and doing the unexpected.
Rules that protect people, such as the Golden rule – always treat others as you would like others to treat you – are those that make sense. Each one of us is a rare species, all precious and one of a kind and no one has precedence over another.
Rules aiming to enforce conformity and obedience are the ones to break. Don’t accept it when you’re told things like, ‘that’s the way it is’ or ‘it’s how we’ve always done it’. Rare people don’t accept complacency.
Live for yourself and do things your way: push the boundaries and redefine the rules. This is how you innovate and enrich the world.
When you’re authentic, have a dream, and refuse to be told that you can’t do something, nothing can stop you. Read on to see what else you need to know.
5. Listen to your intuition
Trust your feelings. This is another reason why it’s important to start things with getting to know yourself: being aware of your strengths, flaws, motivations and fears makes it possible to trust yourself.
While you’re lying to yourself and thinking in terms of how things should be, you’ll never have real confidence that isn’t informed by self-doubt or arrogance, but by knowledge and security.
Feelings aren’t something to be suppressed or hidden. Instead, they must be understood so that they can work for you. Spend some time increasing your emotional intelligence so that you’re able to make sense of and manage your own feelings and the feelings of others.
Instincts are a combination of reason and emotions. They tell you everything you need to know that you don’t notice consciously. Your experience, observations and feelings come together and reach a conclusion – there’s no need to go through the trouble of trying to figure something out when your subconscious has already done it for you.
Most people tend to doubt their instincts because they doubt themselves, but if you’re secure in yourself, you won’t have trouble accepting what your gut tells you. Be a rare person by unconditionally trusting yourself.
6. Ignore the haters
Being rare doesn’t come without its challenges and people trying to bring you down is one of them. When you say ‘no, thanks’ to limits, when you do things your way instead of following the rules, when you’re unapologetically free and present, negative reactions are inevitable.
You’ll be shocked by how many people have something hateful to say when you live the way you want. People will come at you for many reasons.
Some of them will be offended that you’re ignoring what they consider unbreakable rules, but are really rules that exist because it works for them or because they disagree with your values. Some will envy you because you’re successful or you dare to do what they don’t.
If you’re living your life and following your path without harming anyone, their disapproval isn’t your problem. Your best course of action is to ignore them whenever you can and do your thing. Invest all your energy into people who love you, accept you and support you.
7. Be the best at what you do
Most people settle, but you’re a rare breed – you don’t accept anything that isn’t exactly what you want. Set your aim high and commit to it.
Be 100% genuinely devoted to what you want to achieve. If you’re passionate and driven when it comes to it, you must do your best and be the best. And as you’ve already learned, if you find what you love, your effort will never seem like a chore.
This might sound abstract, but being passionate about everything you do is what separates the rare from the common. Your goal can be anything: something related to your career, personal growth or a cause, as long as it’s something you can’t live without.
Work on it every day. Appreciate every small success you achieve and let it motivate you. Be patient and consistent. Learn everything you can about it. Never settle. Say yes. Find opportunities and learn from your mistakes. Create your own reality.
If it’s meaningful for you, if it changes you and makes you get out of bed in the morning, and you get to do it, you’re as rare as it gets.
8. Reject defeat
Let’s say you’re a musician, but you don’t have a way to distribute or promote your music. You have no money to pay for a studio to record your songs, let alone print a physical medium. A fundraiser isn’t an option and you have no sponsors. All you have are some subscribers on social media where you sometimes post the music you recorded in your room.
You want to make your dream of making it big come true, but this scenario sounds impossible, doesn’t it? There are too many musicians who want the same thing, in the same situation. Why would it be you who succeeds?
Think of it this way: why wouldn’t it be you? You have passion, determination and you believe in your music and in yourself. This gives you all the tools you need for success. You want it so bad that hard work feels like a reward. Your music is authentic and real.
But you fail over and over again. You have a choice to keep trying or to give up. If you’re a rare breed, you’ll keep going. Reject defeat and keep going for as long as it takes. When you believe in yourself and in your work, you can make it.
Even if things turn out differently than you wished for and your path takes you in a direction you didn’t expect, you’ll still live knowing that you dared to pursue your dream, and only the rarest among us can say that.
One In A Million
Reject expectations, own your shame and dare to be yourself: this is how to be rare. Authenticity is the only thing that matters if you want to live a life without regrets – a life uniquely yours. There’s only one of you – what you have to offer to the world, no one else has.
Let your passion guide you on your path. Find the thing that makes you want to do it instead of sleeping and wake up with a smile on your face. Most people never gather the courage to reach for what they want at any cost, but you do. Be rare by choosing to follow your dream in your own unique way.
The power you’ll find in being true to yourself is incomparable. There’s no recipe to achieving greatness, but these 8 steps should get you started.