Beauty in Your Differences

“Your differences are what make you beautiful.” You hear a bunch of things along these lines. It’s one of those things someone tells you, and then you give half a smile and walk away with the same insecurities, thinking they’re just being nice. Because it’s hard to really understand the goodness of your differences. My goal here is to make that a little more clear.

Comparison is based on commonalities (you don’t compare the color green to the sound of a clarinet); we compare things that have something in common. That’s why people in the same family are compared to each other more than they are to people unrelated to them, and twins get even more comparison to each other than to other family members. My point is that comparison arises when people focus on commonalities between things.

Now let’s look at humanity. Every person is a rational animal – that’s what it means to be human. At the basic level, that’s what we all have in common. And then we have the differences, the things that make me me and you you. That goes for appearance, skills, interests, virtues, fears, personality, etc.

There are 7.5 billion people in the world, and every one of us is unique. And who could deny that it’s better that way? Imagine 7.5 billion copies of the same thing. No special talents or skills. Just your average Joe, copied and pasted. I wish all 7.5 billion of those Joes good luck in life.

It has been widely recognized that the reason society works is because everyone has different skills. One man living apart from society would not be nearly as sufficient as townspeople, because those living in a community both work for and benefit from the whole. Community, then, emphasizes not the similarities but the differences between people.

So comparison emphasizes the differences between things, but as I explained above, it does so with regard to the commonalities between the things/people being compared. For example, people might say that one person is a better gymnast than another because they are more flexible; but they are being compared in light of both being gymnasts. Thus the basis of comparison is the common ground. Focusing on differences in this light makes us think in terms of “better” or “worse”, “stronger” or “weaker”, “faster” or “slower”, etc. It’s a competitive mindset, making some believe they’re less valuable than others.

In reality, though, the community cannot exist without unique individuals, just as a body needs all of its differently functioning organs in order to live. Here the focus is on people’s differences, not with a competitive mindset but rather with a view of how each part elevates the whole.

So when people say “your differences are what make you beautiful”, that’s true, but it’s not going far enough to do you justice. Your differences are what makes your whole community beautiful – your family, your group of friends, as well as extended community. The things that make you unique are bigger than yourself; they’re a piece of the puzzle that the world would otherwise be missing.

Published by Cona Rose

Hi! I'm Cona Rose, a recent college graduate and a girl who loves philosophy, theology, and great books. My mind is a funny place - somehow both chaotic and systematic. I take a long time to process my thoughts, and I can't handle too many ideas at once. For all these reasons, I made this place for my mind to let out some energy and to try to better organize everything inside it. If anyone else finds entertainment in or learns from this content in any way, I'll consider that the icing on the cake!

2 thoughts on “Beauty in Your Differences

  1. I do think you are right and we are all more alike than we are different, even at the communal level. Even the most isolated communities share more with each other than not. At the same time, we may be going through (even passing out of, perhaps) a period of great diversity. Stone age cultures were remarkably consistent in terms of material culture over best peeps of time. Now new cultures and subcultures are arising and thriving within a material monoculture with breakneck speed. I don’t know what it portends, but thanks for the thought provoking post.

    Liked by 1 person

    1. Thanks for reading, and I love hearing others’ thoughts! The comparison of communities/cultures to one another is something I definitely haven’t given a lot of thought to, but thank you for your insight!

      Liked by 1 person

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