Setting yourself apart 101

This weekend I received an email from an eager young lady, Elizabeth Krupka, at Cabrini College who asked me how I set myself apart in college. (I asked her to post her question on Kommons so I could publicly respond). The phrasing of her question ("How did you set yourself apart from everyone while in college??") was interesting to me. The harder you try to ensure that you're not like everyone else, the worse off you're going to be. How do you measure your success and growth and work toward tangible goals if your treshold is "being set apart from everyone else"? That's the wrong approach.

So my answer is simple:

There was never a moment where I consciously told myself, "Hey, I think it's about time I set myself apart from everyone in my major." It wasn't about that, and if you focus on that as your goal, you're doing it wrong.

I had a passion, a thirst for knowledge and a burning curiosity. Those traits led me to do interesting things with my college newspaper, lead interesting discussions in my classes, etc. By nature, I became a leader, and other inspired and eager people followed.

So don't worry so much about setting yourself apart. Just do what you love doing and always try to learn about how you can do that better. Then share that with everyone else.