samuel_barondes's picture
Professor of Neurobiology and Psychiatry, UCSF; Author, Making Sense of People
Each Of Us Is Ordinary, And Yet One Of A Kind

Each of us is ordinary, and yet one of a kind.

Each of us is standard-issue, conceived by the union of two germ cells, nurtured in a womb, and equipped with a developmental program that guides our further maturation and eventual decline.

Each of us is also unique, the possessor of a particular selection of gene variants from the collective human genome, and immersed in a particular family, culture, era, and peer group. With inborn tools for adaptation to the circumstances of our personal world we keep building our own ways of being and the sense of who we are.

This dual view of each of us, as both run-of-the-mill and special, has been so well established by biologists and behavioral scientists that it may now seem self-evident. But it still deserves conscious attention as a specific cognitive chunk because it has such important implications. Recognizing how much we share with others promotes compassion, humility, respect, and brotherhood. Recognizing that we are each unique promotes pride, self-development, creativity, and achievement.

Embracing these two aspects of our personal reality can enrich our daily experience. It allows us to simultaneously enjoy the comfort of being ordinary and the excitement of being one of a kind.