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If life was not unique, it would have been the same for everyone, and that would have been pretty boring. In reality, life is made interesting by the unique aspects and personalities that we come across. However, it is human nature that we don’t accept every unique aspect rather we only accept what we want to accept. Life is vulnerable and most people don’t see that. For this, they face several problems too. This is why Margaret Mead said, “Always remember that you are absolutely unique. Just like everyone else”. This quote gives us a quite broad perspective on the meaning and uniqueness of life.
Who was Margaret Mead?
Margaret Mead was an American anthropologist who lived between 1901 and 1978. Notable works in her life include working as a motivational speaker and an author for different types of cultural, sexual, and controversial topics. This is also a reason why she got so much fame during her life. Many of her writings that were based on sexual preferences and attitudes in the South Pacific and South East Asian culture were considered to be controversial and unusual. This is mainly because her writings were often a comparison with the sexual conventions that were in the West.
Her most influential book was “Sex and Temperament in Three Primitive Societies (1935)” where she discussed female dominancy and explained how and why male dominancy has reduced in several parts of the world. She explained the gender stereotypes as well as how these stereotypes have been evolving in different ways. She has also held her part in the debate on the issue of racism and intelligence. Among her many sayings, one of the most common ones affiliated to her is “Always remember that you are absolutely unique. Just like everyone else”.
Origin of this Quote
There is little evidence to support that the quote has been said by Margaret Mead. John Peers compiled a book which was named “1,001 Logical Laws, Accurate Axioms, Profound Principles, Trusty Truisms, Homey Homilies, Colorful Corollaries, Quotable Quotes, and Rambunctious Ruminations for All Walks of Life”. In this book, he mentions the quote by Margaret Mead but says that it is Meade’s Maxim instead of Mead’s Maxim. This has been a controversy as to whether John Peers affiliated the quote with a “Meade” or was it a spelling mistake that led to the extra addition of an “e” at the end of the name.
Meaning of this Quote
There are several meanings that can be inferred from this quote with the main element being that uniqueness is what matters the most.
Everyone is Different
One of the most important aspects that many seem to forget is that everyone is a different person. People judge, understand and comprehend others on the basis of what they are themselves. Everyone has their own definition of right and wrong. What’s right for one may not be right for the other person as well. Therefore, one should understand others in the sense that they are different from what you are.
The simplest example of this is that one person likes eating Pizza but the other person does not. Similarly, one person finds it easier to share their personal information and life with others while the other person isn’t. It is wrong to complain about a specific person by telling them what others do. Unless there is something that is certainly right or wrong, one should never ask anyone to do something only because others are doing so.
The main thing that this quote teaches us is that not only are you different, rather it is actually everyone being different.
This quote teaches us to accept others the way they are. Many of us try to change others for something that we ourselves feel is wrong rather than accepting someone for who they are. This approach is quite wrong. The world requires acceptance more than it requires change. In other words, the only change required in the world is to accept the things that people don’t generally do.
Many philosophers say that the world we live in would have not been the world we live in if everyone was the same. The world is going on and on mainly because of the uniqueness that resides among the people. This also means that if everyone was the same, the world would be just like a robotic place for us, precisely working on a set of systems. Knowing this, shouldn’t we be accepting others like they are rather than criticizing them?
Unique is Beautiful
We don’t just need to “accept” the fact that people are different. We need to see uniqueness as a beautiful element that every person has. There should be appreciation for the fact that a person is different and has his or her own identity rather than the fact that they are following others.
Another famous quote with regards to uniqueness goes like
“Only a sheep follows the herd. The lion knows his way”. There are a lot of things that we follow just as they are because we are under pressure. People feel like they can’t be unique because of “What would others say”. Let others speak because they will speak even when you follow them as they want you to.
Just like different colors are beautiful, the different types of human beings are also equally beautiful, each of them having their own respective importance.
One of the hidden meanings behind this quote is to be happy. One thing that many people miss is that while following the world and not being unique like they are, they compromise on their happiness. The happy part in them dies eventually if they are not being unique to themselves. This is because they are living in a situation of constant pressure.
For example, many students are studying because they are being pressured by their parents to study. In reality, they may want to follow different other types of professions such as being a musician, artist, writer, or even a sportsman. Not everyone has supportive parents who support them even when they are going against the norms of the world. This is one reason why many people feel that their childhood dreams are crushed. The element of uniqueness in them is not recognized by the parents.
Therefore, one needs to be happy with their uniqueness as well as with the uniqueness of others. Being happy and doing what makes you happy is one of the most important indirect meanings of this quote. Forget what people think.
What will happen when we accept this quote? It will end all the negativity. We will be able to understand others as they are and not criticize them. We will be happily moving along with our lives as others move along with theirs. No one will feel pressured nor will anyone feel the need to pressurize others because of the massive acceptance that will be there in the world. The need to eliminate negativity has become quite high as there is a bad vibe around in all social surroundings. People criticize, taunt, pass sarcastic remarks, and do several other negative aspects which would not be there if we have the acceptance for everyone that they are unique in their way.
Uniqueness is beautiful and we must learn to accept it. This will not only make lives easier for everyone else but for ourselves as well. People around us will also accept us with our flaws if we accept them with their flaws. The quote by Margaret Mead shows us that we are ignorant towards others as much as we are ignorant towards ourselves. Once we have a firm belief in ourselves and we remember that we are absolutely unique just like others, a lot of fears will diminish. Motivational and influential people such as Mother Teresa and Mahatma Gandhi believe in similar values.