Why you should not say ‘I am not like others’

KANIZ FATEMA | Thursday, 22 July 2021

If you had a series of successive failed relationships in your life, chances are pretty high that at least one of them told you that “I am not like other boys/girls.” Both the depth and execution of this line are unequivocally questionable, even if you might not have believed that from the bottom of your heart.

But let's not go there; the point is, saying something so cliché and not acting on that is what makes them generic. They are one of the crowd.

There are 7.6 billion people on earth and of course, no two people can be the same, that’s a fact. The concept is there are some traits, some particular thinking processes that many of us possess, subconsciously. We often indulge in forgetting that things we are doing or the ways we are thinking are mundane, as many people around us are doing the same thing. To think that probably we are the only ones to do something is wrong and sometimes, hilarious

Statistically speaking, the notion “All the people are different” is quite impossible to be true. There must be an average, a correlation, or a regression. Otherwise, the entire concept of statistics will go wrong.

This notion could be described clearly with a biological reference. You might remember the Binomial Nomenclature from grade 7. In taxonomy, the entire living things are categorised into different segments. Each species is one of a kind but similar to other species of the same genus, and eventually a part of the big Animalia.

The majority of the people claim themselves as off the wall. This is a result of ‘Illusory Superiority.’ Illusory superiority is a cognitive bias that causes people to overestimate their positive qualities and abilities and to underestimate their negative qualities, relative to others. This is evident in a variety of areas including intelligence, performance on tasks or tests, and the possession of desirable characteristics or personality traits. It is one of many positive illusions relating to oneself and is a phenomenon studied in social psychology.

“Sometimes, I consider myself very unique and out of the box; sometimes I feel I am just mediocre, doing average things like other people. The perspective of ‘I am like nobody’ is momentary because you can’t always outstand every aspect of life. At times, we all are an old chestnut,” said Anika Bushra, an employee of Unilever Bangladesh.

Pseudo-exceptionalism is very common in today’s world. You will meet plenty of people on a daily basis who believe they are the true changemakers. It is not that they believe it only; they try to make people buy their thoughts as well. This is just a vague belief people tend to have without any real proof to support it.

“Of course ‘I am like nobody.’ I am a regular football fan; still, I don’t judge a seasonal football fan, and thus see how good I am!” chuckled Abu Rayhan, a part-time journalist and a full-time Real Madrid fan. “However,” Rayhan continued on a serious note, “there are plenty of people who do not judge others. I might have some unique traits but that’s nothing to be vocal about.”

To be honest, everyone is unique just by being a person. This is the core concept of Aristotelian philosophy which promotes the notion- ‘Each human individual is a species by itself.’ The problem starts when people turn it into a goal and start to compare. It's like an identity crisis.

In the book ‘Sense Nonsense,’ Spanish author Javier Garcia-Julve mentioned, “You are not only wrong to think you are better or worse than others, but you are wrong just to even compare yourself."

Javier definitely made a good point here: "If you compare yourself with others, let it be to admire, not to envy."

However, people will keep thinking about themselves what they want to think, which is trivial. The most important thing is what you think about yourself and how you act upon it. This is what changes the entire game.


Kaniz Fatema is a 4th-year student of geography and environment at the University of Dhaka. [email protected]