There are two things we don’t stress enough: the uniqueness of the individual and what that uniqueness does/doesn’t mean.
Everyone is unique. The genetics, relations, education, experiences, and influences that come by our way shape us into the weird and wonderful person we are. Nobody is us, and we are nobody else. That uniqueness gives us purpose. That uniqueness means that there is a reason we are on this Earth. Don’t let anybody take that away from you.
The flip side of this is the “special snowflake” idea. Yes, we are unique in God’s eyes. But that doesn’t mean we’re unique in everyone else. You will find, in life, that although we are unique, there are people really, really similar to us. Think of twins. They are very, very similar to one another (physically), but at the same time altogether themselves. Ever been mistaken for somebody else? Same concept. If you’ve ever been on an audition before, you can completely relate. People tell you you’re so pretty, talented, amazing, etc. and then you go to Hollywood, Broadway, etc. and you find yourself in a line of people that have also been told that they are beautiful, amazing, talented, etc., many of which are equally if not even more so than you are.
This apparent conflict of realities can be very disheartening. Trust me, I can relate. Last year, a young man with the same name as me (Aaron Ybarra) opened fire on a Christian university in Seattle, Washington [an incident made extra tragic and eerie in light of the fact that, upon the release of this post, another shooting has just occurred in Oregon]. I woke up one morning with my Facebook filled with “friend” requests from people around the world. All my friends were checking in on me to see if I was the guy. I mean, when a person about your age, of the same faith, with similar character types (mellow and friendly) and passions (writing) shows up on the scene, you begin to doubt your “you”-ness as well. I tried to diffuse the situation with humor, but, when that didn’t work, I had to sit and process the moment Zoolander-style, and come to terms with one simple and profound question: Who am I?
Sooner or later in life, you will peer into the mirror and ask “why am I here?” There is beauty in the asking, but honestly I don’t know if there will ever come an answer in that moment. It will come when people tell you. It will come through action, with following your gut. Slowly but surely you will find it, like a sculptor crafting a work of art out of a marble slab.
People will tell you all kinds of things: follow your passions, be practical and get a real job, focus on the here and now, concentrate on the Kingdom. All of these things are good suggestions. Honestly, the right path is a little bit of all the above. For each person, there is a different mix of this divine cocktail. The fun and frustration comes in the finding out, but I know you will find it. The trick is to just keep going.
Blessings and prayers to you on your journey.