A couple years ago, a friend asked me a question. It went something like, “Why are you always trying to be different?”
At the time, this question really struck me because I finally, after nearly forty years, finally felt like I was who I always should have been, finally a part of different communities, finally okay with just being me.
The question arose from my choice to become a vegan, after several years of being a vegetarian. We were in the middle of discussing that choice, and how I felt healthier than ever, when the conversation veered off to a broader discussion of our lives, the choices I had made in the past, and the person I had become as a result of the things that shaped my life.
What I’ve come to appreciate more fully, both as a result of that conversation and thinking about it in the years that followed, is that we’re never done becoming who we are. Who we are, how we relate to others and how we interact with the world around us is constantly evolving. Hopefully we continue to grow in positive ways, that benefit ourselves as well as those around us.
However, I have also come to truly comprehend just how alone we really are, how no one can ever truly understand what goes on in our own minds. Often, the choices we make can seem opaque, even enigmatic, even to those who know us best.
I’ve been labeled a great many things over the years—contrarian, difficult, precocious, liar, special, not special—but none really get to me like “different.” In truth, we are all different from each other.
So what is it that makes me sometimes feel like no one understands me? What leads others to view me as different? What circumstances collude to make anyone seem or feel as if they don’t belong? And what is a healthy way to deal with any of those situations.
Most of my life I’ve lived in a way that has set me apart from others, that has made me an Outsider in one sense or another. As a result, I’ve spent a lot of time “looking in,” trying to fit in, and trying to discover why it seems so effortless for others. I’ve also spent the past five years trying to understand my own inner drive that compels me to maintian that distance, that separation.
The Outsider series is a collection of writings that all hang together around that topic.
The first post in the series will be up here soon. I hope you’ll like it.