Last week I participated in a study about rejection. It reminded me how much human being needs to have a sense of belonging. The desire to fit in has always been something I struggled with. In a society where being outside of the norm is so strongly judged, I didn’t have much going for me.
I was always the youngest in my class, because I skipped grades very early. By the end of high school I was three years younger then the average student in my grade. I was automatically excluded from any groups just because of my age. I Also didn’t have the same interests as normal teenagers, at least that what i thought. As the years went on i learnt how to pretend to be normal. Accumulating knowledge and studying people’s behavior was quite easy for me, so i learnt about current music, stars and got myself a boyfriend. I kept my grades average, high enough so my parents don’t bother me, and low enough not to get singled out as a good student. I could not help my self to have discussions with my teachers about subjects that were outside of the curriculum. One day a couple of girls made a comment about it, teasing me for always answering questions in class but not having good grades. So I stopped answering questions and talking to teachers, I took on another persona: the class clown. I wasn’t learning anything in school mind as well make everyone laugh, maybe then they would like me.
Unrelated circumstances made me change high school in 12 grade. It was the best thing that had ever happened to me, nobody knew me so I stayed under the radar. I had good grades, played tennis and stayed in my bubble. I finally had a break with bullying and I didn’t want it to start again.
In college even though I wasn’t interested in what I was studying, I was able to get involved in extracurricular activities. I finally felt like i belonged somewhere, people wanted to be friends with me because i had good grade and I was well know by the university faculty members . I knew most of them were just exploiting me but at least i wasn’t completely alone. Still tried to be like anybody else, complain about the exams, faked being scared about my grades, went to a lot of social events. Nobody really knew the real me and i started to loose sight of who I really was. I finally found a winning strategy and I wasn’t going to let it waste. Graduated started working, found decent jobs excelled. It was kind of hard to connect with people simply because I was perceived as the smart kid. I hated what I did, but i was so blinded by the desire to be perfect that i brushed off my doubts. I still met some great people I learnt a lot from, one of the most important thing i learned was that you cannot judge someone’s intelligence or knowledge by their degree of schooling.
Anyways my point after that whole section of autobiography is that people then to loose themselves trying to be what society calls normal. They become lonely and unhappy. We should accept other people for who they are and embrace our differences. Marginals often have a lot to offer and their different view of the world could help us progress. Why should an artist hide his art or a scientist repress his curiosity? Creativity is the recipe for progress, let’s be smart and encourage it.