"Write about what makes you different."
This is something I've had to think a lot about the last two years, as I've pursued a library position. It is a question that comes up frequently in interviews--"What makes you uniquely qualified for this job?" I struggle with this, because I know that in most ways, I am not unique. There are others who have degrees in Library Science, who have taught in public schools, who yearn for a place among the stacks.
I've come to the conclusion that while we all have shared experiences, most of us do not share them in the same combination. The human population is like a huge, complicated Venn diagram, with all kinds of crazy intersections, yet very few (if any?) completely congruent lives. The ways I distinguish myself are not unique, but the combination just may be the only one out there. Could I find someone who shares these life events and accomplishments:
- born in France, as a military Brat (lots, I'm sure)
- spent half their childhood overseas (lots, I'm sure)
- had a mother who was runner-up to Miss San Fernando (okay, maybe not so many)
- ate sugar cane in Bangkok (lots, I'm sure)
- played in a dead volcano in Naples, Italy (I know my Brat friends did)
- experienced earth tremors in San Jose (I'm certainly not the only one)
- licked the walls in the salt mine in Salzburg (definitely not the first or only)
- watched missiles arcing through the sky over White Sands at night (lots of Raytheon kids shared that experience)
- graduated as valedictorian from high school (there's one at every school!)
- got a degree in special education (there were 200 of us that May, at UT Austin)
- met a guy at an Air Force base, got dumped, and then married his roommate (that happens to everyone, right?)
- gave birth to a micro-preemie who is now thriving in college (different, but not unheard of these days)
- gave birth to a child with three thumbs (there's a term for it--polydactyly--so no, not completely unique!)
The list could go on and on and on. The experiences themselves are shared with so many people...but could I be the only one who's had them all? Is that what makes me different?