How to Be Original

Three Parts:Being OriginalAccessing OriginalityMaking Original Things

Sometimes it feels like being original is impossible and everything is already done. Just remember, no one is quite like you, so that's a good place to start from. The drive to be original is really a modern phenomenon.[1] As you read through the tips in this article, keep in mind that this guide is just that -- a guide.

Part 1
Being Original

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    Acknowledge your own uniqueness. You are, in a sense, already original. While there will be people who are similar to you, wear similar clothes, read similar books, have similar ideas, no one is coming at the world from exactly your point of view.
    • Do things because you want to do them, not because you think they make you different. A fair number of folks from the Millennial generation do things with the specific point of being "original."[2] There is nothing wrong with wanting to be unique and to stand out, but being passionate about the things you are interested in is going to be noticed far more than striving constantly to be different from everyone else.
    • True originality is, for the most part, non-existent. Everything builds on what came before it, style, music, writing. There is nothing wrong with this. Look for things that interest you and build them into the repertoire of who you are. The end result will be entirely you.
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    Find things you are passionate about. Being passionate about things you love is much more important than being unique, and it will also help showcase your interests, which in turn, show how you are original.
    • Most importantly, don't let anyone get down on you about your interests. They make you unique and they make you interesting. Not everyone will share these interests and that's okay! Engage with the interests of others and respect what they enjoy, even if it's something you don't understand.
    • Try out some local music as well as listening to the big names on the radio. You might find bands you would never have thought to like and a community of people to enjoy them with. Local bands will also often be less well known and something you can share with the people you meet.
    • This goes for local authors and physical artists as well. Your community probably has amazing dancers, writers, potters, that aren't well known. Looking out for local talent to be interested in, helps support your community as well as giving you a unique side.
    • Don't hide what you're passionate about. If you like dolls, be open about that. If you like horses, comics, football, writing fanfiction talk about it, show your passion. (Of course, don't only talk about your passions. Listen to others as well. You might even uncover new things to be interested in.)
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    Have confidence in yourself. Confidence, of course, is one of the most attractive traits a person can exhibit, but, in particular, it helps when you do something that is outside the norm. People won't always react well to what they perceive as different, so building confidence in what you are and what you do, will help that nagging voice in your head as well as those nagging voices around you.
    • This means not comparing yourself to others, either in terms of how much you conform or how little you conform. What you do, what you are, and what you make are things you put out in the world. Someone else is always going to be smarter, better dressed, and more "original." Just be you.
    • If people make fun of you or your interests, do your best to ignore them. Words do hurt, but often the reason they're laughing at you is that you don't conform to what they think of as "normal." If it's someone that you care about, making fun of you, explain to them how that makes you feel and ask them not to do it. If they continue to not understand and to hurt you, maybe that person isn't the best to have in your life.

Part 2
Accessing Originality

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    Try new things. Seek out new experiences to try. New experiences will introduce you to new perspectives and ideas that will change and form your individuality. You may not always like them, but they are ways to uncover what you're passionate about.
    • Sign up for a swing dance class or an art class. Learn a new language. There are lots of free programs available through your public library that give you access language learning platforms.
    • Check around your communities: look for flyers for free music shows, lectures, and classes. This way you can try something new at little to no expense.
    • Take up useful things, like knitting or sewing or cooking. They'll give you something to pass the time, ways to make useful handmade gifts, and are fun!
    • If nothing else, new experiences are certain to provide you with interesting, or funny, stories to tell that are unique to you.
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    Wear original clothing that you like. Even fashion designers, who have to create constantly original and recognizable designs, utilize previous fashions and ideas in their new constructions. Figure out what it is you like to wear, what you feel comfortable in and wear that. Look at fashion blogs and the people around you. They can give you ideas for what you might like to try.
    • If you shop at unusual places you are more likely to find clothes that nobody else will have. Try secondhand clothing stores, vintage clothing shops, flea markets and bazaars where local people exhibit their wares.
    • If you like what someone's wearing, ask them about it. You don't have to copy the look to incorporate it into your own personal style.
    • You can also make or alter clothing to make it more unique. Either find old clothing of yours or cheap clothes to work with. Patterns for clothes can be found at craft stores, online, in antique stores and even in books stores. You will need time to get good at this.
    • Draw inspiration from history. Fashion has changed a ridiculous amount. Incorporate a Victorian style into a jacket, wear a 1950s inspired skirt. Just remember that cultural appropriation is never a good fashion choice; if it's an important cultural aspect don't wear it; for example a War Bonnet of the Plains Indian, or the Hindu bindi are not appropriate "fashion" choices as they are an integral part of the culture of their respective societies.
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    Experiment with new styles. Change your look around to find what really works for you. Experiment with your hair, your make-up, accessories.
    • Dye your hair or cut it. Dye it blue and cut it super short, or bleach it. Try bangs, try braids, try just taking really good care of it. The nice thing about hair is that it grows back, so you can do all sorts of things without being permanent about it.
    • Try out shades of nail polish. Paint each nail a different color that you like, or paint them bright flaming red. Experiment with different designs.
    • Try out different kinds of make-up, or don't wear make-up at all. Experimenting with make-up will help you find what makes you feel confident and happy and what doesn't. Sometimes, wearing no make-up at all can make you feel confident in your own face.
    • Try out accessories. Maybe you'd rather have a tiny purse, or carry everything in your pockets. Maybe you're one of those people that has something for every emergency. You're allowed to try different things out to see what you like best.

Part 3
Making Original Things

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    Observe what you like in others' works. Original artistic works, fashion statements, or opinions, don't arise out of nothing. They are built on a framework of ideas, writings, paintings and outfits from people who came before them. They are simply looking at the world, or at life a new way.
    • If you're writing a book, read widely and see what works and what doesn't work. You can take the knowledge you've learned and the ideas you've been confronted with and use it to create something that comes from a new viewpoint, yours.
    • You have to start somewhere. Most artists begin by mimicking the styles of the artists they admire. As you practice and become exposed to different ideas and artistic styles, you'll more and more develop your own style.
    • Salvador Dalí, Spanish Surrealist painter, was considered to be wildly original, and yet many of his skills and ideas come through Renaissance predecessors.[3] It was these building blocks combined with his own unique imagination and perspective that made Dalí original.
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    Develop your style. Practice, practice, practice. Style comes with time and also shifts over time. Constantly assess your work and your self. What can you do better, what do you do well.[4]
    • Mary Shelley, of Frankenstein fame, more or less, invented the science fiction genre, but she built it on the genres of Gothic literature and Romantic literature, utilizing those genre narrative types in her formation of something different and new.
    • Ask people you trust to help, especially people who are familiar with the artists that you admire. They'll be able to tell you where bits of your own originality are shining through and when you've drawn too heavily on the works you admire.
    • Work from your own experience. This doesn't mean write a story about a sixteen-year-old girl who goes to school and feels like she doesn't fit in (if that is what you are), it means no one in the world has had quite your experience of life. Draw on that when you are creating and it will help develop your work into something new.
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    Think critically. Pay attention to what works and what doesn't work in both others' works and in your own. You won't be perfect, even when you're old hat at things like writing, painting, and just being yourself.
    • Don't just accept the opinions of others without analyzing them and looking for various points of view. This also goes for your own opinions. Being original means not just thinking like you're told to.
    • Be respectful. Even if you disagree with someone, or are questioning their artistic or other opinion and style, be polite about it. Try to see where they're coming from, even if you continue not to agree with them.


  • Don't do things differently just to be different; you should enjoy it.
  • Don't worry too much about being original; if you find things you enjoy and do them, you'll probably find that people are calling you "original" anyway.
  • Try to improve at something you like, it may make you more confident.
  • Be yourself that's it.
  • Listen to your inner voice, and that's you.


  • When you make a permanent alteration to yourself (like plastic surgery or getting a tattoo) make sure that it is something you really and truly want.
  • Allow yourself to be who you are. If you know you don't like rock shows, or crowds make you anxious, don't go to a rock show just to try something new. Find a quieter thing to try.

Sources and Citations

  1. Macfarlane, Robert. Original Copy: Plagiarism and Originality in Nineteenth-Century Literature. Oxford: Oxford University Press, 2007. Print.
  3. Dalí, Salvador. (2000) Dalí: 16 Art Stickers, Courier Dover Publications. ISBN 0-486-41074-9.

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Categories: Nonconformist Styles