Matthew Graybosch wrote an interesting article yesterday about not fitting in despite appearing to be part of the majority. I might not agree with his suggestion that he doesn’t deserve congratulations for still being functional, but I wholeheartedly agree that sharing feelings of isolation is better than leaving the world in some grand gesture. Because people listening is why I don’t feel isolated.
My mother worked as a librarian, so my love of words, writing, and learning has been nurtured since before I was even aware people weren’t all like me. I went to a primary school where being one of the smartest children in the class was reason for other children to challenge you intellectually not physically; I still remember an assembly where we played a game of Blockbusters with me against a group of my class. And my parents chose to send me to public school (United Kingdom expensive, not US free) rather than spend the money on holidays or other things.
At every stage I was surrounded by people of status who both viewed expressing opinions as a good thing, and considered a poorly expressed opinion represented a problem with expression not with the opinion itself.
As I’ve mentioned before, this theme of people who had power and authority listening to my thoughts and opinions as a matter of course only increased once I started studying and practising law. So, with hindsight, I’m unsurprised that I don’t carry much trauma from those people who have suggested I’m odd.
But I am saddened that I’m probably in the minority. Between the children whose dreams died because they chose to fit in with the cool kids and the ones whose innocence was fractured by the cool kids isolating them because they didn’t conform, I suspect plenty of people are pretending to be fine.
And not feeling fine isn’t something to be ashamed of. I said that I’m not carrying much trauma, not that I’m free of it. If someone with a background that actively helped them be strong enough to be themselves didn’t escape the fear of being labelled different, there’s no shame in anyone else feeling it either.
So, try talking to someone about how you feel. And if someone tries to talk to you, try not hiding the fact you feel it too.