Thinking for yourself

Yesterday, I wrote about how “different is not enough.” The summary of that essay, and those thoughts broadly, is that I do not believe “different” should be the entire goal. I attempt to make the case that striving for being different often breeds normality.

Today, though, I take a tangential point of view.

I am thinking about how it is near impossible, especially in today’s society, to think different. 

“Thinking for yourself” (my Medium bio) is an incredibly powerful force. Being able to form unique opinions is a human superpower.

Yet it is deceivingly challenging.

Often, and I do this all the time, our thoughts come from other people. We borrow ideas and lessons from things we have read and people we have talked to. This is not bad. It is great to learn from other people and things.

But what often happens is society’s pressures go too far…and our mind ends up being a recreation of modern society – not very unique.

Steve Jobs said the following in an interview for PBS‘ ‘One Last Thing’ documentary:[11]

When you grow up you tend to get told the world is the way it is and your job is just to live your life inside the world. Try not to bash into the walls too much. Try to have a nice family life, have fun, save a little money.

That’s a very limited life. Life can be much broader once you discover one simple fact, and that is – everything around you that you call life, was made up by people that were no smarter than you. And you can change it, you can influence it, you can build your own things that other people can use.

The minute that you understand that you can poke life and actually something will, you know if you push in, something will pop out the other side, that you can change it, you can mold it. That’s maybe the most important thing. It’s to shake off this erroneous notion that life is there and you’re just gonna live in it, versus embrace it, change it, improve it, make your mark upon it.

I think that’s very important and however you learn that, once you learn it, you’ll want to change life and make it better, cause it’s kind of messed up, in a lot of ways. Once you learn that, you’ll never be the same again.

I think we need more independent thinkers in the world. People who truly think for themselves.

It is much harder said than done but I will say I do aim to think freely.

I think the nuanced distinction between this thought, and the one from yesterday, is that my goal is not to be different. It is just to be free.

I do not aim to be unusual or weird. I just aim to think honestly.