I’ve been walking around Chicago on a snowy December morning. I’m here for a conference on lead, & before it all gets started, I’ve been walking on the North Side – all the way along the city’s so-called “Magnificent Mile” – street of high-end stores (which I’d never even heard of until yesterday, btw. Chicago was a complete unknown to me…).

I’m a walker & writer & activist, not a shopper. My actual main destination this morning was the Newberry Library (yeah, so I’m a weirdo. We book freaks always gotta check out the local library…).

& the thought that came to me is, We ‘R Confused. Confusions ‘R Us.

So many of us can’t seem to navigate our way between our want & need to be individuals – to be “unique" – & our want/need to “fit in.”

So, for example, I often feel a tad embarrassed & apologetic because I am “not like everyone else.”(1) And I don’t just feel this way, people I know & love delight in letting me know I am “not like everyone else.” They don’t seem to think this is a “good” thing; I am always being reminded by some friends of how “weird” I am.

We seem to feel the need to beat one another up for the crime of not “being like everyone else.”(2)

We each want (I think) to fit in (actually, that’s a very, very big & primal & entirely understandable need for a creature with millennia of communal life experiences in our genetic make-up), so we do all kinds of kinda crazy stuff to that end – the clothes, the cars, the houses; you know what I mean.

Yet we also insist firmly on our individuality. I got thinking, as I walked by all those ridiculously expensive stores, that some women live & die by their signature “look.” God forbid that two women should show up to a party wearing the same dress!?!?!!? This would be a massive big deal! (not that the men at the party would care.)(3)

I think we are confused.

We want to be “cool.”

We want to be “hot.”

And we want to be special – & unique – but God forbid we should really stand out too much from the crowd – that’s social suicide.

Oh, we are an odd bunch, we 21st century humans. No getting around it.


P.S. “Comparisons are odious” is an old phrase that I think could help an awful lot of us neurotic 21st century humans. Instead of comparing ourselves to others, & finding ourselves lacking, why don’t we just focus on being the best we can each possibly be – & bloody well get on about changing the world???????

(1) & it’s true; I’m not like everyone else! My life is kind of unusual & not like that of anyone I know that I can think of. I don’t live this way ‘cos I’m trying to prove something. Or…hmm. Maybe I am trying to prove something? Just that I am me, I’m not like everyone else, & I don’t have to be like everyone else, & I have an utterly grand life. But I don’t live my life trying to prove something; I’m just living my life on my own terms.

(2) Yikes. Slight understatement here, hmmm? Let’s just not go there right now…

(3) & in the great scheme of things? In a world gone mad with pollution & venal politicians & scandalously rapacious & corrupt corporations, & climate change, & babies being born with their dear little bodies already “pre-polluted” – what we wear is what we live & die by???? So sorry everyone, but … give me a break!!!!