The Value of Particularity
Lean in to your weirdness. You might just find a tribe.
A song about "a young couple" doesn't speak to us. It’s too generic. But a song about Jack and Diane,1 two American kids growin' up in the heartland? Now that sticks.
Paradoxically, what is most particular is oftentimes what is most universal.
Those of us who are Christian follow a Savior who entered our world at a particular time and in a particular place. And people from all over the world are drawn to this Jesus of Nazareth.
Perhaps the most common writing advice is "show, don't tell." Communicating in generalities doesn't draw us in. We want examples. We want delightfully human details that illuminate our own human experience.
Sometimes we are tempted to hide what makes us weird to make ourselves relatable to more people. And, sure, we don't need to know all your idiosyncrasies.
But we're never going to be Kardashians. Rather than ironing out all our wrinkles to try to get more followers or friends, it's better to embrace our particularity. And we might just find a bunch of fellow weirdos.
A friend in college told me that the "Diane" in John Mellencamp's "Jack & Diane" was her PE teacher in Scottsburg, Indiana. That is so particular, which is exactly why I have never been able to forget that detail more than fifteen years later.