Being special means doing 10% of things differently from everyone else; not doing 100% of things differently.

In the grand scheme of things, everyone does the same things the same ways. We tend to have similar travel patterns, work patterns, clothing habits, parenting styles, hobbies, entertainment interests, food preferences, etc. On a microscopic level, we like to tear apart the tiny differences, but in the large sense, we're all very much the same.

Which brings me to people who consider themselves “special” and “different”. This is a good thing (I'd like to put myself in this category!). Feeling and acting special can bring about special (and better) results in life. Which (of actions and results) is the cause and which one is effect? I'll leave that as an exercise to the reader.

But there's a problem I see more and more these days from the special people. In an effort to continually represent themselves as special, different, superior, they feel the need to do everything differently from the mainstream.

Sometimes this is about the depth of their differentiation. It's not enough to be vegetarian, I need to be vegan. It's not enough to be vegan, I need to eat only raw foods. It's not enough to raise my kids without sugary snacks or TV, I'm also going to home school them and set up a webcam so the public can watch while I raise superior children.

Sometimes it's more about the breadth of the differentiation. It's not enough that I'm already a beekeeping teetotaler who keeps all my money in gold because I don't trust the banking system and will only use open source software in my household; I also think I'm going to cancel my cable TV and home phone line, and only buy organic foods, and swear off air travel as unsafe due to a government conspiracy to which only I am privy.

These people feel like in order to stand out, they need to do as few things as possible that fall in line with the status quo of the unenlightened mainstream.

So while being special is valuable, be sure you're special for the right reasons. And being special for the sake of being special isn't the right reason.