There is No “Original” You

The world is obsessed with originality. You can see it in the face of the street artists who purvey they cares on the corner. You can read it in the comments of those anguished that they can produce a cover song perfectly but struggle with an original beat. You hear it in the admonitions of parents to their children to “think for themselves” instead of following the crowd. Originality is one of the most valuable currencies you can hold as a full-grown adult. As a child it’s quashed in the school lunchroom and in the high-school hallways as everyone looks to fit in. In the adult world everyone looks to stand out. But the truth of the matter is that there is no such thing as originality.

“You” are everything that you have ever borrowed or been taught

Without your parents you would have no sense of morality. No sense of right or wrong. Even though they’re artificial constructs, it’s your parents that gave you that initial sense of “do this and feel good, do that and I’ll make you feel bad”. And while 40 percent of your personality is genetic[KK1] (read: 50% borrowed from your mom, 50% borrowed from your dad), the other 60 percent is based on your experiences, what you’ve been taught by others, and your traumas that break your beliefs. But you would be nowhere without the original beliefs that your parents engrained in you since you came into their possession.

Society contributes a lot to reinforcing this. In fact that’s what society is meant to do, reinforce “good” behavior and make examples out of people who do “bad” behavior. Whether you were born into it or you moved into it, society revolves around the pillars of mutually agreed understandings; thou shalt not murder, filial piety, tribalism; all of these concepts are upheld in various societies around the world and if you’re going to live within the physical boundaries of that society, then you are expected to conform to those beliefs.

Even your “science” that you behold to be true is based on your reading history. You know where I got that “40 percent” stat from above? I remembered reading something about it a couple of years ago. But then at the same time I couldn’t remember the exact stat so I googled it just to make sure and cherry picked the top article that matched my google search. Our “science” is nothing more than the stuff we’ve been told and we believe. All the rest we eschew based on what we’ve been historically taught or our past experiences. (This is why trying to prove science to another is basically impossible unless you’re already talking to a believer. Because all you have for reference is research by another random article. It’s easy to dismiss it if your audience knows you haven’t done the experiment yourself.)

Every beat of every song has already been hummed in someone’s head. Every recipe that you’ve eaten in a restaurant has ingredient combinations that have been revolving around for centuries. Every idea that has ever come to fruition has already been thought by tens if not thousands of people throughout the world and through all of history. The only difference is that someone had the means and ability to execute it. That’s why ideas are a dime a dozen, because everyone’s already thought of flying cars, packages ordered online being delivered to your door in one to two business days (looking at you Amazon), and robots and cook and clean for you. The only difference is that at a certain point someone had the means to execute the idea successfully. Any other idea up until this point is either impractical, uneconomical, or the technology doesn’t exist yet.

So if there is no “original” you, then what part of us can be called original, if any at all.

The only original part of us is the combination of atoms, water, and dust that has been swirling around the universe since the beginning of time and has arranged itself together to form you. There will never be another arrangement of star-stuff that is arranged exactly like you. No one else will ever have your same combination of experiences, thoughts, and perspectives. You are wholly you not because you think, but because you have the ability to think. And because your unique presence is on this planet for only a short period of time, there is only one duty that is bestowed upon you.

It is our job to take the borrowed stuff that is useful to us and humanity and carry it forward to the next generation. Act in accordance to what you believe in. Stand by what you believe. If you’re solidly disproven, then perhaps it’s time to change your belief. But that depends on where you live and under what circumstances you live. Slavery was legal at a certain point in time, but did it warrant believing in it?

Leave all the dumb ideas behind. If they’re useless discard them. If they’re dangerous (like Naziism), then teach of their follies. If they’re ridiculous (like flat-earthers) then keep it in mind and have examples ready for when someone tries to disprove your belief (otherwise how can you truly know if you’re correct or not?)

In short: perpetuate the good parts of humanity. Let the rest of it die off.

[KK1]Twins & Their Development as Toddlers (hellomotherhood.com)

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