One day, as a young kid, I asked God with tears running down my cheeks: Why am I so different? Why can’t I be like everyone else?...
I didn’t get an answer right away, but as time passed, and as I grew up, I realized, the answer was right in front of me.
Many of us struggle in life, since a very early age. Struggling to get understood, felt, and before all, accepted. We all start life by trying to imitate our friends, relatives, parents, and family, then we slowly blend in with everyone else and do everything that we are ‘supposed’ to be doing at that age.
Except, things aren’t like this for many of us since many people have often felt from a very young age that something was a little off, something wasn’t completely ‘right’, or that something was missing. Those people felt that somehow they weren’t ‘normal’; maybe they even thought they were ‘weird’, ‘odd’ or anti-social. The truth is, it’s much more complicated than that. It’s the feeling of ‘not fitting in’ no matter how hard you tried to.
What is fitting in, and why can’t I do it?
If we had to define it, ‘fitting in’ is basically feeling completely in tune with people around you; your family, your society, your peers etc. When you feel completely embraced and accepted by everyone around you, and you don’t feel that anything is necessarily ‘wrong’ or ‘missing’.
So, now that we defined the act of fitting in, why on earth do many people never experience that blissful feeling? In fact, many feel that they’re completely detached from their peers, their society, their family, and even their reality itself. So what can cause somebody to feel that way?
To answer this question, I need to go a little back in history, thousands of years back to specific. It all boils down to the tribal instinct of our evolutionary mind… Human, by nature, is a social creature. He cannot prosper and grow unless he is ‘accepted’ by his tribe, which in today’s case, would be your society and family. So, what happens when the very people you’re living among, decide that you’re an outcast and that you’re not following their idea of a perfect human? You guessed it, you die.
Sure, we’re no longer living in tribes, yet we still retain many of our evolutionary instincts. But hey, I still haven’t answered the big question. Why on earth am I not fitting in?
The answer is, the moment you’re born, your life is pretty much decided by your family, society, you name it. After you're born, you’re somehow obliged to follow some arbitrary footsteps set in stone by your ancestors. You’re born, in this life, only to realize that you have to spend years and years in schools that require you to be compliant, obedient, and conforming to everything they ask you to do or say. You grow up, watching everyone around you seamlessly blending in with everyone else and blindly following orders.
You start feeling that something is ‘off’. Why should I listen to those teachers? Why should I study things I am not even remotely interested in? What if I wanted something else?
Before you can answer this question, your mouth gets instantly shut with the standard answer: ‘That’s how it’s supposed to be’. And before you can voice your blatant opposition, you realize you’re about to graduate from college, and it’s only a bunch of letters and scores that can determine whether or not you’re worthwhile, whether or not you’ll be destined for success, and whether or not you’d be perfectly accepted in your society.
You graduate from high school, only to find that you’re ‘supposed’ to enroll in some college, putting yourself in massive debt just to be ‘doing what everybody else is supposed to be doing’. You start thinking: Life has so much more, there’s so much more to this than gulping astronomical amounts of coffee and missing sleep for days just to submit your assignment before the deadline. But before you can start questioning, you’re hit by the realization that you’re now graduated, and you should do ‘what everyone else is supposed to be doing’, which is, finding a job, getting married, and having kids.
You break down; you’re fed up with all of this. After leaving your office
choking in your tight suit, you realize you’re working yourself to death, and you’ve been told that you should have a nice job so you can afford to ‘live’, only to find out halfway through your life, that you did have a nice job, but you never actually ‘lived’.
That’s the reality millions of people have faced and are still facing. Those people who are finally not buying into society’s trap of some arbitrary rules and guidelines we’re supposed to be following, just to be ‘normal’.
You have never been normal, and you’ll never be. Because trust me, it’s so boring to be ‘normal’, There’s nothing greater than being an ‘extraordinary’ one.
You paused your life at one moment, and wondered; “What on earth am I doing on this planet?” it may have even developed into a full-blown existential crisis. You started doubting everything, including everything you’ve been told, and everything you ever learned, and even yourself.
The problem is, you think that something is wrong with you. But the truth is, there is really nothing wrong with you, at all. Your feeling of not fitting in, or being an outcast is merely a perfectly normal reaction or a symptom of a sick society. A society that has completely lost touch with reality, people have been transformed into machines working around the clock just to sustain a broken system.
Everything that was supposed to make you feel ‘fulfilled’, ‘satisfied’ or ‘alive’ had been turned into a triviality, and the only thing that matters is continuing to work for the system, and making sure it’s running smooth, all while treating your health and well-being as afterthoughts.
You’re not odd, eccentric, or weird; you’re just a human being that had his eyes open up to a colossal realization; the significance of life. You’re a human being that finally screamed from the top of his lungs ‘enough’, and decided he/she won’t continue wasting his or her life anymore just making sure you’re fitting in. You’re a human being that had become awakened to the fact that there’s so much more to life than exams, papers, numbers, or offices. You’re someone who has finally realized that life is too short to worry about what anyone thinks of you and that the only thing that matters at the end, is whether or not you actually ‘lived’.
Don’t worry about yourself, or feel bad about feeling that way. You’re just on the beginning of the route towards something big, something extraordinary. And that beautiful route starts with doubt, questioning and finally becoming the one who will leave the herd, and move the other way.
Hang on there, because the moment you finally decide to free yourself from the chains of people’s opinions and society’s expectations, is the moment that you’re truly free. And once you have freed your soul from all these imaginary shackles, it’s finally the time for big, big change towards the path of greatness and glory.
By Ismail M Taher