I like to think that one of my more refined (and useful) skills is the ability to figure people out rather quickly. For the most part people are very simple creatures, largely predictable. Once you figure out how they respond to certain inputs, it’s safe to say they’ll usually respond similarly in similar situations. If you’re able to pick up on those tendencies, you can go as far as to emphasize certain inputs to… erm… manipulate the outcome. For the most part people are inputs and outputs.
I’m not saying I’m manipulative… I usually choose to just observe.
Honestly I find it disappointing that most people are so simple and 2-dimensional. Feed them something they love, and they’ll re-regurgitate it right back to you. Ask them why they love it and they say “I don’t know, I just always have.” Feed them something they hate, and they’ll parrot every opposing argument they’ve ever seen, heard or read on the internet. Ask them about something neutral, and they just don’t care.
All of the most interesting people I’ve come across in my life (which probably total less than 8) share two things in common. First and foremost, they have deep convictions and feelings about the things they consider relevant. And second, those convictions are rarely unsolicited, because those convictions aren’t reliant upon the acceptance of others. They are wholly their own. Both of those traits are probably my most respected qualities in a person. The ability to form your own thoughts, be passionate about them, and not require validation.
Because your thoughts are your own should be validation enough. Should someone disagree with you, what does it matter? If you think something is “stupid” or “awesome” because someone else did (or didn’t), that’s not conviction, that’s influence. I don’t mean to say you should be unique for unique’s sake; it’s absolutely fine to share similar feelings as others. It is how you arrive to those feelings that matters.
Don’t confuse a strong conviction with ignorance though. One of the most powerful conversations I remember having with someone was talking with a friend about salvation. You may or may not be religious, but the conversation below is a great example of what I’m talking about.
She said, “Do you know you are going to heaven when you die?”
“Absolutely,” I said.
“How do you know for sure?”
“Because I believe 100% that Jesus lived and died on the cross for my sins. That as the Son of God, His sacrifice is enough to cover the sins of all humanity, including my own,” I said with great confidence.
“You think believing is all it takes to be saved?” she asked.
“I do. When I stand before the Lord I can say I believe with all my soul that Jesus saved me.”
Then she caught me off guard when she said, “I would rather stand before the Lord and tell him that I did everything I could to know for sure that Jesus saved me.”
I felt a bit ignorant in that moment. I believed I was saved, because that’s what I was told I had to do. Just believe. She made me realize that just because I choose to believe something doesn’t make it real in and of itself. That what is truth is truth regardless of what one chooses to believe. That that conviction needed to come from personal revelation through action. (James 2:14-17) Those are the kinds of thoughts that I find alluring.
So, honestly I’m rarely that “interesting” person I’ve been talking about. I’m pretty predictable and unsolicited myself a lot of the times. But I try to keep an awareness of it about me. I try to be my own person and do what’s best for my family and me, but also realize that my way isn’t necessarily the best way for anyone else.
We are all unique individuals. Being different isn’t something we should feel awkward about. You should celebrate it! Don’t let conformism take away one of the greatest personal freedoms you’ll ever possess, and that is the freedom of individual thought.