We all know that line from Fight Club – “You are not a beautiful and unique snowflake. You are the same decaying organic matter as everyone else.” If you didn’t know it, now you do.
The concept of that phrase is both true and false, depending on how you look at it. 99% of the time, it’s true. You’re one of the masses, one of billions of people on earth living, dying, loving, hurting. Which, I think, is kind of great. We’re all the same because we’re all human. We’re all mortal and we all get screwed over and hurt, but we also all find moments of laughter and joy. I’ve blogged before about the idea that your pain isn’t what makes you different from everyone else, it’s what makes you exactly the same. In some ways, none of us are special, because we all feel the same things. I just don’t necessarily see that as a bad thing.
But here’s the thing about snowflakes – they all look exactly the same to the common eye. When snow falls, I don’t stop and look at every single flake and marvel at what a damn miracle it is. There are billions of them, who has the time? But every so often I’ll stop and one will catch on my scarf or my glove, and I’ll look at it and take notice, just for a second, of the fact that it is beautiful and unique. Every snowflake is different, and that fact doesn’t change just because I don’t take the time to look at each one.
It’s the same way with people. We don’t have time to stop and get to know every single person who crosses our path. We lump them together in our minds based on how they look and act and dress. Most of the world is just one giant, faceless mass to us. But then there are the people who populate our lives. The snowflakes we’ve noticed, so to speak, and the ones that have noticed us. To them, we are infinitely special. They see our beauty, and we see theirs, and we find comfort in the fact that to over 99% of the world, we are nothing – not special, not unique – but in our tiny corner of the globe, to the ones we love, we have infinite value and importance.
The trick, I think, is just to balance those two lines of thought. On the one hand, we need to get over ourselves. The world does not care what happens to us, the world only cares about what it can get from us, and it will discard us when it’s done. We are not that important, and we shouldn’t expect to be treated like we are. It’s not as though this is some tragic, news-worthy fact. It’s just life.
But on the other hand, to the people we love, we matter more than anything. We are important, and one word or phone call from us can make or break the day. They’re the ones who have stopped to notice us, and we’ve stopped to notice them. And they are what keeps us grounded, the ones who we love and who love us. Because sometimes you’ll stop and take notice of someone who does not notice you, and it will hurt. And sometimes you’ll overestimate how beautiful and unique you seem to someone, and it will be a punch in the gut. But at the end of the day, who needs ’em? It’s okay that not every single person you’ll ever meet thinks you’re God’s gift to mankind. Frankly, it would be a little overwhelming if they did.
Maintaining the balance can be hard, but I also think it’s one of the keys to a happier life. Knowing when to shrug things off and remind yourself that the world doesn’t revolve around you, and also remembering that you do have value, and you are loved.
You are not a beautiful and unique snowflake to a majority of the world, and neither am I. But that does no mean you are worth any less to the ones who love you, nor should your self-worth decrease.
We might just be the same decaying organic matter as everyone else, but in some ways, we are still snowflakes.