I was recently watching a segment of The Voice, a made-for-TV vocal competition in its seventh season. One of the musician coaches, Pharrel Williams, gave memorable counsel to a young artist. Williams said, “Don’t sing anyone else’s story, sing your own.” I jotted that one down.
Irish writer and poet, Oscar Wilde, is known for this great line, “Be yourself; everyone is already taken.” It’s the same concept. Sing your own story. Be yourself. You are one of a kind. You are unique.
I’m grateful for parents who taught me to be proud of who I am. I’m sure I too was tempted during my adolescent transitions to blend in with the crowd and to be more like my peers than different. But yet, I have lots of memories of choosing clothes and shoes that were unique, bright and stood out from the rest of those on the shelf. I was always a bit miffed and embarrassed if I saw one of my peers with the exact same shirt or shoes.
Even as an adult, when purchasing a new Honda Civic several years ago, I ordered it with several moderately-priced exterior options so it would stand out from the crowd. And to this day, even having driven it across North America on a 14,000 mile road trip during our recent sabbatical, I’ve never seen another Civic just like mine. I like that. I don’t want to sing someone else’s story. I want to be one of a kind. It’s just who I’ve become. It’s what I value. And yes, I even like my car to be exclusive.
Are you an innovator or an imitator? Our world is filled with copycats and counterfeits. What we really need more of is innovative standouts– distinctive, irreplaceable and rare. The Message paraphrase of the Hebrew Psalm gives us this poetic picture of gratitude for God’s intention for each of us:
Oh yes, you shaped me first inside, then out; you formed me in my mother’s womb. I thank you, High God—you’re breathtaking! Body and soul, I am marvelously made! I worship in adoration—what a creation! You know me inside and out, you know every bone in my body; You know exactly how I was made, bit by bit, how I was sculpted from nothing into something. Like an open book, you watched me grow from conception to birth; all the stages of my life were spread out before you, The days of my life all prepared before I’d even lived one day. (Psalm 139:13-16)
One of my favorite verses in the Bible is, “For we are God’s masterpiece. He has created us anew in Christ Jesus, so we can do the good things He planned for us long ago” (Ephesians 2:10). Yes, you really are a masterpiece. The original language uses the word “poiema.” In English, we say poem. Did you realize that you are a set-apart and carefully crafted poem of God that expresses His heart? Yes. You are a masterwork. An original. No one else has a fingerprint just like yours.
Only you can do and be exactly what God has designed you to be and do. Innovate today. Sing your own story. Be yourself. Everyone else is already taken.
QUESTION: What helps you to remember to be unique? I’d love to hear it below in the comment section.