The Stoics stood out in Athens. They stood out in Rome. Whether it was Cato walking around barefoot or Cleanthes proudly doing manual labor. Whether it was Seneca practicing his poverty or Marcus Aurelius reading during gladiatorial games, the Stoics were different.
It was obvious. It was intentional.
If I wanted to be like the mob, Chrysippus once said, I would not have become a philosopher. I want to be like the red thread, Agrippinus told a friend, the thread that stands out and makes the garment beautiful.
The Stoics knew that each of us was born inherently unique. Well before an understanding of the science of DNA, they implicitly grasped that never before and never again will our combinations of genetics exist–that we are singular. So why would they try to become like everyone else? Why would they unquestioningly do what everyone else did? Why would they mute their colors, conform their thoughts, fearfully submit to someone else’s rule?
They stood apart. They stood tall. They stood proud. And so must you. Because you are you, never to exist ever again. Not part of the mob or the crowd but a philosopher.