Based on the purely anecdotal evidence of my own personal conversations with people it seems everyone’s insecurities stem from the idea of originality. The non-conformists judge those for conforming to the status quo and everyone else laughs at the irony while checking themselves in the mirror. Eventually we leave middle school and spend the rest of our lives trying to recover. It seems most people grow out of letting the opinions of others rule their lives but the insecurities are still there; they’re just buried deeper.
This is true; and I think we all know it and live it. Many of us are still living it, but that’s a discussion for another day because this idea of originality is just a myth. I like to think that it was thought up by some shady shipwrecked character who exists outside of our perception of time and space. In a void where unoriginality is sought after and originality is shamed. At least it would be if these beings were able to unite in anything but originality cannot exist in a community. As soon as two people unite under anything they immediately lose their originality; they’re uniting over a shared interest or belief in something; it’s that unoriginality that creates a bond between them. This same mysterious being, coming from this world of originality and finding us, introduces us to this world of originality; because a world of originality is a world of misery and it loves company.
The link to our own world is eye opening. Those who are outcasted for being “different” aren’t really different at all. They are left to feel completely alone and that there is no one out there that understands them. That no one is capable of relating to them but that is quite literally impossible. They’ve believed the myth of originality and now embrace the misery and loneliness that comes with it. These people aren’t original at all and we know it. The characteristics that would unite these individuals is a hidden treasure but no one is searching. So instead of embracing this treasure they embrace the lie that everyone is telling them.
“Nothing of me is original. I am the combined effort of everyone I've ever known.”
Chuck Palahniuk, Invisible Monsters
In the summer of 1986 an 18 year old Christopher Thomas Knight parked his car and walked into the woods. He made a home of those woods, stealing what he couldn’t get from nature from the neighboring houses and avoiding the modern world until eventually being arrested almost 30 years later. Living nearly thirty years devoid of human social interaction he’s the only living example of a life in solitude. Being pulled from the life he’d grown accustomed to and forced to rejoin those he’d fought so long to avoid he was apprehensive to talk to anyone. One reporter was persistent in befriending this man ending in a discussion held in the jail where he was being held. Through this conversation he was able to gain some insight into the world of solitude.
“But you must have thought about things,” I said. “About your life, about the human condition.” Chris became surprisingly introspective.
“I did examine myself,” he said. “Solitude did increase my perception. But here’s the tricky thing—when I applied my increased perception to myself, I lost my identity. With no audience, no one to perform for, I was just there. There was no need to define myself; I became irrelevant. The moon was the minute hand, the seasons the hour hand. I didn’t even have a name. I never felt lonely. To put it romantically: I was completely free.”
“With no audience, no one to perform for, I was just there. There was no need to define myself; I became irrelevant.”
Perhaps the only thing truly unique about any of us are our natural desires. We are an amalgamation of everyone we’ve ever met. We take what we like from people, real or fake, and apply it to our own lives mostly subconsciously. A life of solitude lead Chris to believe that the person he was ceased to exist at the same time his interaction with other people did. It’s important to recognize that this is already happening subconsciously so that later we can have full control over our lives by choosing our influences consciously.
The same way we are influenced by others so are others influenced by our actions; that’s what makes people care about our art. The great thing about our work, no matter what industry you’re involved in, is that it works almost like the opposite of our life. In life we can only control so much of who we are and have become but with our work we have full control over what it is and what it will become. We can create exactly what we want so when starting a new project I enjoy looking through all the inspiration directly related to the project at hand and then when getting started I can apply this mass of inspiration and apply myself directly to it. After all isn’t it being relatable that draws people in? The more influences you pull from, the more relatable your work will be even without realizing it.
Now I realize that this is a very long convoluted way to say that our identity as a whole is stolen but I’m not a writer. I’m just saying what comes to me from the things I’ve read. Honestly this is probably all stolen too and that’s my overall point. Quit wasting time worrying about being original because you aren’t and won’t ever be original. Spend your time experiencing life and following the things you enjoy because that’s where we draw influence from when we need it; and it is those influences that have made you as relatable as your are in the first place.