No two living beings are exactly the same. We are formed out of different pasts, both biologically and experientially. We can celebrate or deny our differences, and we can ignore or bring out the uniqueness in others and ourselves. These wise words from writers and thinkers explore the value of uniqueness.

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Our uniqueness makes us special, makes perception valuable – but it can also make us lonely. This loneliness is different from being ‘alone’: You can be lonely even surrounded by people. The feeling I’m talking about stems from the sense that we can never fully share the truth of who we are. I experienced this acutely at an early age.

— Amy Tan

When we spend our lives waiting until we are perfect or bulletproof before we walk into the arena, we ultimately sacrifice relationships and opportunities that may not be recoverable. We squander our precious time and we turn our backs on our gifts- those unique contributions that only we can make. Perfect and bulletproof are seductive but they don’t exist in the human experience.

— Brené Brown

We are all different, which is great because we are all unique. Without diversity, life would be very boring.

— Catherine Pulsifer

There is a certain way of being human that is my way. I am called upon to live my life in this way, and not in imitation of anyone else’s life. But this notion gives a new importance to being true to myself. If I am not, I miss the point of my life; I miss what being human is for me.

— Charles Taylor, Multiculturalism

Sometimes, I am also identified as a civil rights leader or a human rights activist. I would also like to be thought of as a complex, three-dimensional, flesh-and-blood human being with a rich storehouse of experiences, much like everyone else, yet unique in my own way, much like everyone else.

— Coretta Scott King

Each of us is a unique strand in the intricate web of life and here to make a contribution.

— Deepak Chopra

Peoplehood tends to develop into nationhood if the people achieves a certain maturity. This is analogous to an individual person who becomes acquainted with herself only in the course of her life, without being able to say that she possessed no personal uniqueness at all before that ‘self-recognition.’

— Edith Stein

It is the child in man that is the source of his uniqueness and creativeness, and the playground is the optimal milieu for the unfolding of his capacities and talents.

— Eric Hoffer

There are as many ways to live and grow as there are people. Our own ways are the only ways that should matter to us.

— Evelyn Mandel

The unique personality which is the real life in me, I can not gain unless I search for the real life, the spiritual quality, in others. I am myself spiritually dead unless I reach out to the fine quality dormant in others. For it is only with the god enthroned in the innermost shrine of the other, that the god hidden in me, will consent to appear.

— Felix Adler

This is my ethical formula: the quality of our daily task lies in the manner in which it builds our distinctive selfhood. The daily tasks, to which we give constant attention, is the means for enabling us to master some field of knowledge; to reach down to a bedrock in learning; to gain a footing in reality. No one can deal with real things in a thorough-going way without somehow dealing with them in a unique way.

— Felix Adler

There is a new habit which ought to be supported by a practical philosophy of ethics. How to prize the distinctive difference of each individual. How to prize uniqueness. Not the conventional sameness of people. Not uniformity. But individuality. The ethical quality is that in which a person expresses uniqueness. The ethical act is the most individualized act.

— Felix Adler

Every kind of human talent, like every kind of tree, has its own unique characteristics and bears its own unique fruits.

— François de La Rochefoucauld

One day our descendants will think it incredible that we paid so much attention to things like the amount of melanin in our skin or the shape of our eyes or our gender instead of the unique identities of each of us as complex human beings.

— Franklin Thomas

One of the most important gifts a parent can give a child is the gift of accepting that child’s uniqueness.

— Fred Rogers

While we have the gift of life, it seems to me the only tragedy is to allow part of us to die – whether it is our spirit, our creativity or our glorious uniqueness.

— Gilda Radner

The outlines of the needed psychology of becoming can be discovered by looking within ourselves; for it is knowledge of our own uniqueness that supplies the first, and probably the best, hints for acquiring orderly knowledge of others.

— Gordon W. Allport

If I could give you one key, and one key only to more abundant life, I would give you a sense of your own worth, an unshakeable sense of your own dignity as one grounded in the source of the cosmic dance, as one who plays a unique part in the unfolding of the story of the world…

— Greta Crosby

We are all the same, that is, human, in such a way that nobody is ever the same as anyone else who ever lived, lives, or will live.

— Hannah Arendt, The Human Condition

So the fact that I’m me and no one else is one of my greatest assets.

— Haruki Murakami

These questions of taste, of feeling, of inheritance, need no settlement. Everyone carries his own inch-rule of taste, and amuses himself by applying it, triumphantly, wherever he travels.

— Henry Brooks Adams

I was not born to be forced. I will breathe after my own fashion. Let us see who is the strongest.

— Henry David Thoreau

He never seemed to grasp the immense mutability of human nature, nor to appreciate that behind every nondescript face lay a wild and unique hinterland like his own.

— J.K. Rowling

The American ideal, after all, is that everyone should be as much alike as possible.

— James Baldwin

In his own way each man must struggle, lest the normal law become a far-off abstraction utterly separated from his active life.

— Jane Addams

Individuality of expression is the beginning and the end of all art.

— Johann Wolfgang von Goethe

Note that this journey is uniquely yours, no one else’s. So the path has to be your own. You cannot imitate somebody else’s journey and still be true to yourself. Are you prepared to honor your uniqueness in this way?

— Jon Kabat-Zinn

I’m a unique person, as everyone is, but none of us has more of a right to existence or a right to specialness or uniqueness than anyone else.

— Jordan Gavaris

As for you, my beloved friend, I loyally believe in your uniqueness; but whenever I try to tell to you wherein it consists, I helplessly describe only a type.

— Josiah Royce

No matter what parents do, kids retain their uniqueness.

— Kirstie Alley

Solitude is essentially the discovery and acceptance of our uniqueness.

— Lawrence Freeman

Society evolves this way, not by shouting each other down, but by the unique capacity of unique, individual human beings to comprehend each other.

— Lewis Thomas

We tend to think of our selves as the only wholly unique creations in nature, but it is not so. Uniqueness is so commonplace a property of living things that there is really nothing at all unique about it. A phenomenon can’t be unique and universal at the same time.

— Lewis Thomas

Our uniqueness, our individuality, and our life experience molds us into fascinating beings. I hope we can embrace that. I pray we may all challenge ourselves to delve into the deepest resources of our hearts to cultivate an atmosphere of understanding, acceptance, tolerance, and compassion. We are all in this life together.

— Linda Thompson

Tell me, what do you plan to do with your one wild and precious life?

— Mary Oliver

I rejoice in the knowledge of my biological uniqueness and my biological antiquity and my biological kinship with all other life forms. This knowledge roots me, allows me to feel at home in the natural world, to feel that I have my own sense of biological meaning, whatever my role in the cultural, human world.

— Oliver Sacks, The River of Consciousness

There will be no one like us when we are gone, but then there is no one like anyone else, ever. When people die, they cannot be replaced. They leave holes that cannot be filled, for it is the fate—the genetic and neural fate—of every human being to be a unique individual, to find his own path, to live his own life, to die his own death. I cannot pretend I am without fear. But my predominant feeling is one of gratitude.

— Oliver Sacks

If we wish to know about a man, we ask ‘what is his story–his real, inmost story?’–for each of us is a biography, a story. Each of us is a singular narrative, which is constructed, continually, unconsciously, by, through, and in us–through our perceptions, our feelings, our thoughts, our actions; and, not least, our discourse, our spoken narrations. Biologically, physiologically, we are not so different from each other; historically, as narratives–we are each of us unique.

— Oliver Sacks

Do not train a child to learn by force or harshness; but direct them to it by what amuses their minds, so that you may be better able to discover with accuracy the peculiar bent of the genius of each.

— Plato

Most go to prison not on account of their irreducible uniqueness as people but because they are part of a marginalized sector of the population who never had a chance, who were slated for it early on.

— Rachel Kushner

Insist on yourself; never imitate. Your own gift you can present every moment with the cumulative force of a whole life’s cultivation; but of the adopted talent of another you have only an extemporaneous, half possession.

— Ralph Waldo Emerson

[H]uman existence is also essentially and inescapably social…We are individuals with a personal and unique center, but we are also just as absolutely subjects whose central ego is shaped and formed into what it really or actually is through interchange with the world and especially other people. Human existence occurs and unfolds in solidarity; we are what and who we are through our relations to others taken as individuals and collectively as society.

— Roger Haight, An Alternative Vision

Integrity involves both the uniqueness of who I am as a person and the integration of the values and wisdom that guide me.

— Ronald J. Greer, If You Know Who You Are, You Will Know What to Do

Human beings, you see, do absolutely two primary things. We see like and unlike. Like becomes, in literature, simile and metaphor. Unlike becomes uniqueness and difference, from which I believe, the novel is born.

— Salman Rushdie

The brain is behind the really big questions we have. Who am I, what is my identity? What is that based on? If memories are encoded in connectomes, your personality might be in your connectome. If that’s the case, that’s the basis of your uniqueness as a person.

— Sebastian Seung

Love always ends differently and it always begins differently.

— Taylor Swift

The different people are not like other people, but being different is nothing to be ashamed of. Because other people are not such wonderful people. They’re one hundred times one thousand. You’re one times one! They walk all over the earth. You just stay here.

— Tennessee Williams, The Glass Menagerie

Families have become models for public life, constructing friendships between individuals of different temperaments, ambitions and ages, even if they are often unsuccessful. People now want, above all, appreciation of their uniqueness.

— Theodore Zeldin

As I look into the future, I see radical changes in both how people ‘attain beauty,’ and how the world perceives beauty. In general, I believe traditional beauty will be less valuable – and more uniqueness will be heralded.

— Tyra Banks

If you celebrate your differentness, the world will, too. It believes exactly what you tell it — through the words you use to describe yourself, the actions you take to care for yourself, and the choices you make to express yourself. Tell the world you are one-of-a-kind creation who came here to experience wonder and spread joy. Expect to be accommodated.

— Victoria Moran
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