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Bring on 2014: A guide to being different

Kayla DeVault

Who are you? Are you like everyone else or are you different? Special? Maybe a large part of who you are is where you come from. Well, since the beginning of time people have been divided by this thing called culture. Any deviation from mainstream thinking or traditional custom created a divergence. Enough small differences over time can create more than just a generational gap and actually can cause people to separate from one another.

Therefore, by its very definition, culture is “being different.” And “being different” can encompass any wide variety of things, from religion to music, politics and even diets. But sometimes culture seems to try too hard to be different. In that case, culture becomes that lurking group of smoking Goth kids in “South Park” that is always angsty, never popular and bound to rapidly downsize due to juvenile lung cancer. The key is to know which kind of culture is you.

It was cool to be a shepherd 2,000 years ago. Or, at least a lot of people did that. It was also cool to disrespect women and wear clothes that more closely resembled bed sheets than actual outfits. Life was pretty simple and not a lot was written down. Actually, it was probably so boring that no one could really stand writing about daily life. And there were quite a few people sitting around with their sheep in those days, just watching the sheep do sheep things. Yet the people we remember from 2,000 years ago are the ones who made some kind of religious impact on history or conquered a lot of people.

It was cool to be a specialist 1,000 years ago. You wouldn’t specialize in something like child psychology or orcas, but you might specialize in pounding iron into something or blowing glass. It was still cool to pretty much ignore women and wear silly clothing. But, of course, the people who actually defined the culture of that time aren’t remembered. Rather than remembering the serfs and peasants of this era, when we think of 1,000 years ago we remember the royalty that took money from the poor and had a lot of people killed.

Today, it’s cool to be different. It’s so cool that everyone is trying. In fact, thousands and thousands of people try to be different every day in so many ways that it’s pretty much impossible to actually be different. From shepherd to specialist and then to individualist, our narcissistic society is so concerned on the individual while the ineffective government pays no mind to them at all. And, as history tells us, these individualists won’t be remembered by anyone anyway. No, the future will only remember the governmental body acting as the collective town idiot.

Today’s culture seems to encourage us to embrace a past that we weren’t involved in but which defines why we’re here and how we now live. But that doesn’t mean you can’t control your own personal culture, like who you are and how you will impact the future. No one wants to be ordinary. Today, everyone wants to be “Royals.” Well, with a little bit of effort, you can make sure you’re not the ordinary guy wearing bed sheets and blowing glass.

The 2014 Guide to Being Different (But Really):

1. Answer to a different name every day. Like, names are so 1066 A.D. anyway.

2. Buy clothes that you only wear once.

3. Only study when it seems cool to not study, and stop studying when everyone else is actually getting serious about that test (like, whatever, finals).

4. Start smoking but never smoke where you’re actually supposed to.

5. Don’t chew gum. Chew sticky tack instead. Way cooler.

6. Wear your backpack upside down. Probably no one will copy you, so you’re safe.

7. Go to class. That’s so uncool that you’ll eventually make it cool but no one will want to copy that either.

8. Make three cheat sheets for test that only allows two, then get the third tattooed on your thigh. People will think you’re creative, even better than the Goth kids creative.

9. When it comes to professional sports, remain completely emotionless and unconcerned.

10. Tell people you only eat between the hours of 11 a.m. and 10 p.m. because that’s when Chipotle’s open. You’re openly protesting that they open for breakfast, too.

This guide is only 10 easy steps, but it’s enough to get you started. It will give you the tools you need to unpredictably stand out, protect your individualism and hurt enough people (or at least yourself) to get you on track for making that lingering impression on society. Remember, wearing skinny-leg jeans and being edgy doesn’t score enough individualist points anymore these days so you’ve got to think of other means. So find your new “culture” and party on.

Kayla loves to travel the world alone and experience new things in places that most people avoid like the Plague, all the while dreaming of the day her cats will decide to tag along and go somewhere more interesting than their litter box.

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