What Does It Mean to Be Unique?

Uniqueness. A word that means so much but can be so confusing when pondered upon. According to the dictionary, it refers to the quality of being the only one of its kind. But in today’s society, how can we achieve this quality?

To me, it feels like uniqueness is an almost impossible characteristic to reach. In our education system, we are all taught the exact same things, trained to follow the same rules, and often pursue the same careers. And when we learn the same information, doesn’t that mean we will become similar people?

That is the mindset I generally had until last week, when I was returning home from college orientation. I was on a flight home and happened to be sitting next to a middle-aged man. After the flight attendant gave us our beverages and snacks, he started a conversation with me. Throughout our discussion, he encouraged me to explore many different careers. But after sharing all his ideas, the man urged me to hold on to this one piece of advice: “You can do the same thing as everyone else; just do it differently.”

Just like that, with that one sentence, I found the answer to my doubts. My worries about picking a unique career, something that set me apart from everyone else, vanished. I realized that being unique lies in your interpretation of the world. Yes, we can all learn the same thing, but every single person will interpret that information differently.

But even if we do happen to achieve this uniqueness in our future careers or our ways of thought, what is the point of being unique? What do we gain from being able to say we are different? Is it for personal pride? Are we doing it to please others, to receive praise from the public?

As Muslims, we should remember that “Innamal a’maalu bil niyyaat.” “Actions are dependent on their intentions.” Without our intentions being for the sake of Allah SWT, it will not matter whether we had the most unique career in the world or did the most good. Our actions will be judged based on the intentions we put forth.

So, like the man on the plane gave me his advice, I will pass it on to you: You CAN do the same thing as everyone else, just do it differently. But don’t pick a future based on how unique it is. Do it for the sake of Allah SWT, and everything else will fall into place inshallah.