I have a friend who’s kind of a jerk. One of those guys who will just flat-out punch holes in all your biggest ideas.
This week he wrote me to say this:
You are not blessed or lucky and you don’t have a guardian angel. You’re no different than the rest of us. If you’re in the wrong place at the wrong time you die.
He’s a fundamentalist atheist, and when he heard I’m walking across two continents to meet the gods he got worried for my safety. He assumed my plan was to rely on prayer and hope, not planning or connections, to survive the most dangerous regions along my route. So, he decided to write me and tell me I’m not special. And you know how I felt?
I felt damn good. I wanted to kiss him. I’m not special, and someone finally gets it.
Distinct Lack of Snowflakes
See, I get told I’m special about five times a week. Not usually in quite those words—let me give a few examples.
“You’re quitting your job? Are you a trust fund baby?” (No.)
“You can travel because you’re single. If you had a family like me you’d have to stay put.” (Nope.)
“It’s easy to go through those places if you’re a man, but it’s not safe for a woman.” (False.)
“Mosquitoes don’t like you. They always go for me.” (They love me just fine.)
All these statements have come up in conversations about the Great Adventure, but they’re nothing new. Anytime you’re doing something interesting, people will find excuses why they can’t do it too. They make you out to be “special.”
The reason is simple: if you aren’t special, then they could be doing something just as awesome as you are. But they aren’t doing this awesome thing, so you must be special. It all makes perfect sense.
I find this thinking atrocious, because it says we’re all born a certain way and we can never change it. You’re thin because you have a fast metabolism, and you get computers because you were born after 1980. Other people are big-boned or “technology doesn’t like me.” This is called aristocracy, and we killed a whole lot of people a few years back because it’s a shit poor system.
When someone’s doing something interesting, an alternate approach is to say, well heck, they’re no different than me—maybe I could do that too.
Please tweet or share this if you’re not special.