Standing Out

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Standing Out

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A drip of bright yellow on a dark blue canvas.

An irresistable turn of the head.


Everybody’s vibing cynical and pessimistic. You turn up honest and hopeful. That’s a lit candle in the dark. Even the darkness can feel its warmth. Contrast.

So many talk spin, stretch, bend, hedge, twist, clever, and sale. They can’t tell it straight and true. You do. Others resonate. Contrast.

Everyone’s doing what everybody else’s doing. Like call speeches. 95% read a template speech prepared by a pupil (with slight amendments). You fashion your own. Contrast.

To stand out, you don’t have to scream and shout, make a spectacle of yourself, unwaveringly wave your arms for attention, beat your chest, or name-drop at every opportunity and invitation. That inevitably casts a scent of insecurity, desperation and acute anxiousness. They also do not last.


To manifest and deepen contrast is leveraging the mundaneness, plainness, hegemony or uniformity of a group, context or environment by distinguishing ourselves from it through differentiation. A crude way to describe contrast is strikingly different from the usual.

The strike does not come at once. It is a long time in the making. It takes time. Those that seem to have it all at once early don’t last.

There is contrast in how we dress, speak, behave, care, empathise, and think. We contrast in what we think about, believe in, and stand up for. We contrast in what we enjoy, prefer and love.

The contrast can happen and happens at many dimensions and levels. Each contrasted facet subtly influences the whole. Each pattern of contrasted facets is different. The differentiation manifests cumulatively and simultaneously at the micro and macro levels.

The habits, qualities or attributes to cultivate to intensify contrast are the benign ones that make us uniquely us. They are the natural and inherent qualities that define or would define us if we let them. These qualities may please some and grate others. It is what it is.

A quality not possessed can be cultivated to such a degree as to be inherent. That is the beauty of the human being’s plasticity.


If we are fortunate, it comes naturally. Some people stand out. If we are not so blessed, we cultivate it. There is nothing wrong with that.

Encourage and deepen those benign inclinations in each dimension when you are aware of them. But don’t force them. We should not seek to exert or quicken their development artificially. Genuine change in a human being does not ordinarily happen quickly.

Development should be natural and organic. Experience and education needs time to digest, settle and reflect on themselves for insight. Acknowledging them every time they express themselves suffices.

How much we stand out depends on the intensity of the contrast expressed or cultivated in relation to the environment, context or situation. The greater the contrast, the greater the standout. But there is a limit to how much contrast we should impose. Too aggressive or artificial a contrast creates envy, rivalry and condemnation. Too feeble or afraid to assert contrast binds us to the background.

Courage is needed for contrast.

Cowards are unsuitable for contrast. Those that hide are incapable of contrast. The corrupt and irresponsible inevitably wreck their contrast. It requires bravery, robustness and resilience to deal with the distinction, criticism, if not condemnation of being inescapably different. There is a certain degree of friction where there is contrast. That is inevitable.

Contrast is about our relationship with a variety of cultural, intellectual, societal and psychological environments, aside from the physical. In cultivating contrast, we stand out not so much of our direct efforts but because of the natural and inescapable distinction that is harnassed from doing something different from the predictable, mundane, routine and common.

Contrast is a far greater and better way to distinguish ourselves compared to the feeble efforts of our own efforts, i.e., marketing, business development, social media whoring. It is far cheaper, less anxiety driven, and more lasting.

Ultimately, I contend it is meaningful and gratifying because contrast is simply daring to be our truest selves with others, singly or collectively. And that is a difficult thing to do, especially in today’s hypercompetitive, money and profit driven society, which demands things to be done in a blink of an eye.

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