Life starts out as a series of firsts, which if you're the first child like me, your parents obsessively tracked in your baby book.
First time you sat up, first time you rolled over, first steps, first words, first grownup food, first haircut.
My brother was third-born. The only thing his baby book said was, "Andrew graduated from high school today."
There's a benefit to being the first child. You set the bar by which all subsequent children are measured. The risk is, they'll all surpass it. And you'll hear for the first of many times, "why can't you be more like your sister or brother."
Followed by your first coma when you say the first thing that pops into your head.
As we get older, we remember other firsts in our lives. First crush, first kiss. First girlfriend or boyfriend. First tearful breakup.
(Watch out for your final tearful breakup. There are usually lawyers involved.)
First time you drove. First cigarette. First time you tried alcohol. First time you got drunk. First time you barfed on your friend.
We all have these firsts. Some have them later, some have them earlier. Some may avoid them altogether. (Those people aren't very fun. Try to avoid them.)
But what about being the first at something? Each of us are all the first or only person ever to do certain things, the unnoticed firsts of history. Those special details that, if someone actually kept track of them, would get you into the record books. Or prison. Take a few of your personal characteristics, string them together, and you too can be the first, only, or best at something.
For example, in 2005, I was one of the 50 funniest emerging playwrights in the entire country.
How? Basic math. I won a scriptwriting competition for Best Comedy in the Emerging Playwrights category for the Indiana Theatre Works conference. There are 50 states, ergo, top 50.
See how this works?
My friend, Bill, was the first ever Michigan State University honors engineering student who graduated with a BS at Purdue University and an MS at the University of Illinois.
Another friend, Cathy, became the first female university professor/novelist to ever have her book about circuses in Indiana adapted into a play which became an off-Broadway play.
We're told over and over "we're no one special." We criticize Millennials for being precious snowflakes, and wish they'd just get over themselves.
But maybe we're wrong about that. This is your time, especially if you're a Baby Boomer or Gen Xer! This is your way to be the first, best, and only, even if it's something so specific that no one else has ever thought of it. That's even better. In all of history, you will do something that no one else in this world will ever do. You will be the best in the world at something.
When I was 11, I tried to create a replica of Thor's hammer out of 2x4s and a stick, except I didn't know how to drill a hole for the handle, so I nailed it on at a 45 degree angle. I wrapped the whole thing with 2" masking tape, and colored it with red and blue markers. It was horrible and embarrassing, and I hid it in my toy box for five years.
But it was my first first. In all the history of all the world, up to that point in 1978, no one had ever done that. No one had constructed a wooden comic book hammer with 2x4s, masking tape, and a crooked maple branch like that one. The world has existed for billions of years, and that was the first time anyone had ever built. . . whatever that was. And, with hope, there will not be another like it for as long as the world lives.
What First, Best, or Only do you bring to the world? What's your claim to history and greatness? Figure out what that is, own it, and be proud that you've done it.
Like being the funniest emerging playwright from Indiana to have ever built a crappy Thor's hammer replica and become a Kerouac House writer-in-residence in all the world.
Kurt Vonnegut's got nothing on me!
You can find my books Branding Yourself (affiliate link), No Bullshit Social Media, and The Owned Media Doctrine on Amazon, Barnes & Noble, and Books-A-Million, or for the Kindle or Nook.