A long time ago, right here on this very planet, I was a soldier.
Anyone who knows me well, knows that I have a fondness for tradition. Once I find something I like, I tend to like finding it over and over. My Sunday breakfasts, my Ecko shirts, this janky haircut I’ve had since the mid-1800’s, redheads; you get the point.
When I lived in the barracks, I had my traditions there too. One of them, was lunch. Every single damn day, I would head to the “chow hall” and order the very same damn meal, two grilled ham and cheese sandwiches. Every day, I’d walk up to the very damn same chef, who would ask me what I’d want, and I’d tell her the very damn same thing I said the very damn day before.
I started to get peeved at the fact that she could not tell me apart from any of the other bajillion soldiers she had to cook for. One day, I walked up to her and as she stared blankly in my direction and asked what I wanted, I lost it. I just stared back at her for a second, until it became awkward and she had no choice but to actually focus on me, then I yelled. “AAAAAAH!” She took a step back, with eyes wide open. I then calmed myself, smiled, and calmly asked for two grilled ham and cheese sandwiches.
That was the very last time I ever had to ask for them. No, I wasn’t carried away and locked in a padded room. Every time since then, I’d walk up to her, she’d smile and ask, “two grilled ham and cheese sandwiches?”, I’d smile back, “You know it!”
I had stood out.
There are a whole lot of people on this fine planet of ours, and it’s easy to fall into the cracks. Everyone is consumed with their very own soap opera, and sometimes they can’t help but be oblivious to the world around them. I learned a lesson about differentiation that day. If you want to be noticed, you have to stand out.
A shrink once asked me, “If you could have any super-power, what would it be?” I couldn’t pick one, so I told him my top two: The ability to become invisible, and the ability to light myself on fire. He was amused because they are the powers of two completely opposite personality-types. The introvert in me wants to remain invisible, he hates dealing with people; but the superstar in me wants to shine, he wants everyone to take notice, he wants to stand out. He knows that the human connection is extremely powerful. That not only do people need other people, but even more important, people need to matter to other people. It’s when we matter that we go above and beyond, when we lay it all on the line to achieve something greater than ourselves, something epic.
Albert Einstein, The Wright brothers, Abe Lincoln; each of them stood out, they defied convention. They weren’t trying to stand out, but they were doing their damnedest to not blend in. They, and others like them, have paved the world you live in. They refined humanity.
How do you stand out? How will you leave your mark on the world? When will you stop asking for grilled ham and cheese?
“Don’t worry when you are not recognized, but strive to be worthy of recognition.” — Abraham Lincoln