You are NOT special…Really???


~ At coffee yesterday an acquaintance of mine stopped by my table to lament his recent money troubles. He had just recently quit yet another job in a long string of vocations he has jumped around from in search of the perfect position.

It’s just not fair Kenneth. All I want to be is an artist. I should be able to make enough money doing commercial art to get by, but I can’t get any jobs in that area” he said

Apparently my acquaintance had never heard of the term, “starving artist”, probably because he has grown up in a culture that told him over and over, “You are special”. Like so many other twenty and thirty year olds, he lives in the delusion that he is special. As though he “knows” certain things about life that nobody else knows, and that he deserves to live whatever life he wants to live.

However, the reality of life is that it is tough. After graduating high school or college, there is not a yellow brick road to follow that leads us to the wonderful Emerald City where all our dreams come true. No, life can and is difficult. Obtaining what we want takes days of hard work and toil, of getting up in the morning to a job you may not like, but working hard to move forward in life.

Too many people have been told that they are special; that they are so special that things will come easy for them. Perhaps it is the artificial facade that Hollywood has erected via the television; a phony world where everyone is golden tan, receives millions of dollars for producing music or making movies. Unfortunately, you are not special, and the likelihood of getting that “big break” is a zillion to one; there is a greater chance you will get hit by lightning a few times before you ever win the lottery or become a famous writer or painter.

The problem also has to do with parents. Too many parents in Western Society have coddled and spoiled their children. They tolerate their adult children living at home well into their thirties smoking dope every day and working dead-end jobs. Suburbia is littered with a staggering number of young adults who believe they are special and deserving of things they have not earned. I am all for helping your children, and I think its a shame when parents kick their children to the curb at age 18 for no good reason. But coddling and spoiling your children is every bit as bad as kicking them out too soon.

To quote the Proverb, “Things gained quickly lead to ruin”. Too many young adults have been sold a false bill of goods, believing that they are special, it has taught them to think that everything should come easy and that anything worth doing is only worth doing if it works the first time.

With role models like Mark Zuckerberg who became the youngest billionaire by being nothing more than a bully and a thief, or Kim Kardashian who is only famous because she had sex on camera and leaked it to the press, it is no wonder that young adults believe they could be the next big thing.

Thomas Edison would likely look down at the current crop of young adults. Edison, who viewed failure as one of the most rewarding elements in life was not afraid to spend thousands of hours hard at work, day after day, often receiving no reward but learning that he had failed once again.

You are not special.

The words sting. They hurt our ears. To have someone say to us, “You are not special” is a difficult pill to swallow. Western imperialism has taught everyone born in the West to believe they are more special then the rest of the world. It has led governments to bad foreign policies that harm indigenous tribes around the world, and has led countries such as the United States, to wage proxy wars all around the globe.

You are not special.

You do not deserve to be the next famous rock star. You do not deserve to be the next great author or painter or fill-in-the-blank. You do not know the secrets of the universe any more than your next door neighbor. Regardless of how good a writer or artist you think you are, there are millions of other men and women who are even better than you.

You are not special.

Oddly enough, embracing the truth of your rather ordinary essence is a good thing. Embracing the reality that you are no more special then your next door neighbor is a humbling experience that can free your mind of the yoke that has kept you blind. Embracing the idea that you are not special should compel you to make even more art; write more, make more music, use all of you creativity and live a life of meaning. But don’t do it to become famous. If fame and money is in the back of your mind when you write a blog or post your newest photo or painting, then you will only become a cheap plastic person.

When I used to spend more time reading random blogs, I used to see so many people who think they are the shit. They write what they believe are witty articles about their sexual experiences or past relationships that went bad. They write articles thinking that they are on their way to being a famous writer or author. Yet the stale emptiness of their motivations courses through their every sentence. They think they are more special than all the other writers.

Humility goes a long way in life. It helps ground us to reality, and it helps build positive bridges between us and others. Humility reminds us to love our neighbor as our self, and to do good unto the poor and hurting. Humility reminds us that we are no more deserving of good things than the next person, and helps to open our eyes to the truth of our existence. And although it is a strange pill to swallow; realizing that we are not special will be the first positive step toward a greater and more fulfilling life. 

Just a few thoughts as I sipped my coffee this morning,


Categories: Culture & Society

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26 replies

  1. Thanks for this special post, Kenneth.

  2. “You do not deserve to be the next famous rock star.”

    Unfortunately tv shows like X Factor, let people think that they do. They believe that they can have instant fame, and don’t have to slog their guts out in the bar/club circuit, building up a following. They want fame and riches and they want it now.

    It all goes hand in hand with people having the attention span of a goldfish. They want what they have until the latest version comes along. Phone working fine? Yes? Shame, we’ve a new version coming out that you simply must have because we’ve brainwashed you into being a good little consumer.

    To quote Sheryl Crow – “It’s not having what you want, it’s wanting what you’ve got”. Those are words that I’d like to think I can live by.

  3. I like it! And I agree with what you say in this post. But it is a tough lesson that needs to be internalized before one can truly be happy with one’s life. Even those that we consider “special” really aren’t that special. The roll of the cosmic dice has so much to do with them becoming “special”.

    Very insightful! Thanks for sharing your thoughts.

  4. I agree that I am not special in the sense of great, famous, deserving of awards and accolades. I agree that I am also ordinary. But I am also unique, a particular combination of talents, abilities, and gifts, given by God, and meant to be used to serve others and glorify God. That’s what each of us can celebrate.

    • The difficulty arises when individual Christians believe they are especially unique in their talents, as though they have somehow risen above the pack in their abilities. As it says in Ecclesiastes, there is nothing new under the sun

  5. Everybody IS special. . . . when they are babies. They get everything handed to them . . . they get their stomachs filled and their butt wiped at the slightest whimper . . . they are the center of the universe . . . UNTIL they get to school with all the other mini gods, that is.

    In my day we learned real quick that if we got too wise guy we would get punched in the face and most likely nobody would kiss our black eye and make it better . . . competition began in earnest in first grade and never ended . . . sports we had to prove ourselves worthy . . . scholastically we had to prove ourselves worthy . . . socially we had to prove selves worthy. . . and the beat went on for the rest of our lives.

    Today what are we raising? Whatever it is we are ending up with children in the board rooms . . . children in the governments . . . children on the football/basketball/baseball fields . . . . Why?

    Because they never had the opportunities we had . . . to develop tribal/social behavior and find our place in the pack.

    The only thing special about us today is that we are specially ignorant when it comes to living on this beautiful planet

  6. Excellent post today, Kenneth. I can’t find a thing to disagree with in any of it. I am convinced that success, especially in any of the arts, but in business as well, is a combination of hard work, timing and a little bit of luck. Had Elvis started out today, I am convinced he’d probably be relegated to the life of a truck driver for life.

  7. This is special (and, perhaps, by that I mean the truth is…) But then again that word has lost a sense of actuality, hasn’t it. Brilliant post!

  8. Enjoyed thank you having three kids 21, 20, 17 I understand what you are saying it is in grained in the school and the overall culture. As a parent not an easy fight but a must fight fight. Keep it up

  9. Ok. So Ive agreed with you for a year. Now i finally see things differently. I think we are special. Intended to expend ourselves toward expressing ourselves or contributing in unique ways. We are special. But we’re all special. And I really believe that. And I think we should all honour that in one another. ‘Special’ does not mean ‘better than’ though. And it certainly doesn’t come with entitlements. Effort/work is required to hone and advance our ‘special’.

  10. I am in complete agreement with the point you are making here. Most of the current lot are inclined to replace hard work and single-minded perseverance with excuses of being the special one. Albeit the fact that this stems from the surroundings, I think it is highly unlikely in India. More often than not, Indian parents are so busy comparing their kids with others and in the process, undermining their true potential that the younger generation doesnt have the time or the chance to slip into reveries like this. A lot in my opinion hence depends on the place where you come from.

    • “undermining their true potential that the younger generation doesn’t have the time or the chance to slip into reveries like this”

      well said, youre spot on, where we live and grow up plays a big part in how this issue applies to our life.

  11. Those who are Kenneth-special (the difinition we are discussing here) have worked to become that way. It’s work! Not genes or luck or anything like that. It’s very hard work. It’s practice and sweat and it just doesn’t look that way when you have “made it.” Those who rise to fame in a 15 minute cloud do not stay famous.
    Also that is not really fulfilling… From what I have heard. It is much more fulfilling to work for it and know you got it with for real.
    I am special. I work for my business to be unique and special every day. It is very hard work but I know it will last and unless something crazy happens, it’s not going to be stripped from me.

  12. “Humility goes a long way in life. It helps ground us to reality, and it helps build positive bridges between us and others. Humility reminds us to love our neighbor as our self, and to do good unto the poor and hurting. Humility reminds us that we are no more deserving of good things than the next person, and helps to open our eyes to the truth of our existence. And although it is a strange pill to swallow; realizing that we are not special will be the first positive step toward a greater and more fulfilling life.”

    I fully agree Kenneth. It does remind us to love our neighbor as our self. Humility is just a logical recognition that we are really equal. This is a hard pill to swallow but one that will take you out of the matrix that blinds you from the truth.

  13. Wow, It’s really refreshing to find someone that can have a good conversation without worrying too much about stepping on someone’s toes. Face it: YOU ARE NOT SPECIAL! and neither am I. That’s not to say that all life isn’t sacred, it’s just that it isn’t special. Nor is any work wholly original, so those of us that believe that we are truly self made are fooling themselves, too. The ECCLESIASTICAL CONCLUSION people! There is nothing new under the sun, there is a time and a purpose for everything under heaven, all men and works of man will pass away, life is futile. If you can’t beat it, join it. Embrace your futility and maybe even embrace your impending death. Not life, Not love, Not hate, Not nothing. Empty yourself and fill it with something GOoD. It doesn’t make a man special, just different, which is no different from anyone else. Transcend, and realize that you cannot. The crazy Wisdom.

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