“Always Remember That You Are Absolutely Unique. Just Like Everyone Else” — Lessons from Margaret Mead’s Famous Quote

As an introverted, nerdy teen who loved logic puzzles and reading fantasy novels, I never felt like I fit in with my peers. Yet I‘d tend to envy the self-professed “weird” kids who donned vampy clothing or quoted obscure anime. At least their deviation from our high school’s standard model of normalcy had panache!  

So when I first came across famous anthropologist Margaret Mead’s quote, “Always remember that you are absolutely unique. Just like everyone else,” it gave me pause. 

She perfectly captures the simultaneous truth that yes, in many ways, each of our life stories IS distinctive – while also acknowledging that we universally experience struggles forging identity, feelings of isolation, longing for purpose, and other shared hallmarks along the journey to self-discovery and actualization.  

"Always Remember That You Are Absolutely Unique. Just Like Everyone Else" — Lessons from Margaret Mead's Famous Quote | Featured Image

Meaning of the Quote, “Always Remember That You Are Absolutely Unique. Just Like Everyone Else”

This paradoxical quote encapsulates nuances around individuality versus common ground that I still unpack layers of to this day! Certainly, cultivating awareness for our one-of-a-kind gifts and experiences promotes what positive psychologists call “owning our story.” It helps us voice perspectives and talents only we can contribute while forging wholehearted authenticity.   

But simultaneously, as Mead notes in her signature witty style, we aren’t SO different as our egos may claim! Underneath surface variances lies fundamental humanity – fears and dreams mirroring one another. 

I’ve found it tremendously comforting to embrace this broader lens on my small struggles to belong or pulsating self-doubt I assumed plagued only my overthinking brain. Finding common ground fosters empathy.

About the Author  

Margaret Mead (Source)

As a pioneering cultural anthropologist in the 1930s -1970s, Margaret Mead literally circled the globe, repeatedly immersing in diverse pockets of localized societies to analyze patterns of universal psychological and social configurations amidst deep traditions coloring the human experience. 

From Samoan coming-of-age rituals to familial structures within Turkish villages, she uncovered powerful evidence of certain shared symbols, behaviors, and developmental stages that transcend ethnicity or era. These revealed principles craft the bonds of our existing “global village.” 

Her openness to identifying both stark cultural differences AND uncanny collective threads of meaning STILL informs anthropological study today.

Your Unique Potential

In the opening half of her memorable quote, Mead touches on the significance of honing awareness of the factors making each of us rare and extraordinary. 

Certainly, the self-actualization process involves identifying and then courageously nurturing our one-of-a-kind strengths, passions, and purposes that constitute our niche magnum opus to gift the world.

I love utilizing reflection tools like journaling or art to tune into my specific symphony of talents and discoveries still unfolding. When we filter out societal noise around “supposed-tos,” our authentic enthusiasms beam through! 

Maybe for you, it’s mathematical brilliance or a poetic way of visualizing abstract concepts or unwavering hope in the face of hardship. Give yourself permission to play – and all the while catalog insights on your distinct wiring.

Trusting those whispers then empowers you to deliberately nurture the seeds of unusual ideas only YOU hold the capability to manifest or revolutions only your unique lens can unleash. Never doubt that the world needs your uncommon genius!

The Ties That Bind Us  

At the same time, Mead’s quote wisely cautions us not to get so caught up in our own “specialness” that we overlook the relatability making us fundamentally human. We ALL experience fear of failure, have battles with self-doubt or struggle to feel heard or understood. Understanding this connects us.

Finding common ground requires vulnerably sharing stories and worldviews, though, despite disguises of differences. 

Engaging compassionately helps dissolve the illusion of separation. I continually find snippet stories from even the most seemingly disparate people light up flashes of resonance within my own memory. It could be the pangs of homesickness as a latchkey kid…or the peer pressure to mute parts of oneself to belong…or even pride at overcoming a major health challenge through sheer will. 

Owning Your Story

“Always remember that you are absolutely unique. Just like everyone else.” ~ Margaret Mead | Quote Graphic

When we give ourselves permission to embrace every aspect of our identity and origin story — including the uncomfortable parts — it breeds wholeness and self-trust. The times I’ve shared vulnerable narratives riddled with the poor choices of my 20-something self or revealed terror of risking creative dreams, it ended up forging my deepest connections. 

Owning every unique contour of your winding journey builds authenticity. But vocalizing struggles often requires quieting that inner critic doubting wider relevance. 

When I finally publicly shared my painful reckonings with anxiety and body image, I nearly fainted, clicking “post” from nerves! But then those confessions ended up being the pieces impacting readers most as people realized they weren’t alone. If your experiences inspire growth or comfort in even one person, then that already proves richness in your rare perspective worthy of mining.


At the end of the day, the process of self-actualization shines a light on the singular niches we alone can fill while unveiling universal threads that reassuringly connect us in our human vulnerability. So yes, always remember that you are absolutely unique – EXACTLY where you contribute is unreplicable! But simultaneously, we’re all stumbling through this journey of growth and meaning-making together.  

Success Minded

Writer & Motivator with a goal of Inspiring and Helping 1 Million people across the globe to reach their goals. Join the largest self-improvement community on Twitter (700K+) over at @_SuccessMinded_

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