This student is a bit different from his classmates at the university. He dares take a position that is opposite of all of his peers and finds reasons for his individual opinions. This is not a typical way of relating to others here in China. Usually students find out what others will say so that they know what they will say. There is a definite hesitancy to be different.
I find that I am different in spite of what I want. I could blame it on others and a constant travelling from town to town and school to school, but that wouldn’t be fair at all. My brothers and sisters also lived the same life and are not all that different from the norm. I know that I have worked hard at trying to fit in with colleagues and the communities in which I have worked while raising a family and pursuing a career. In the process I thought that I did a decent job of fitting in.
The truth though, was different. I was accepted in spite of my differences because of my efforts. I learned to listen and keep quiet about what I thought, what I knew. I said the right things and did the right things and as a result was able to sit comfortably on the edges of these communities – always and outsider, but one that was accepted as long as I didn’t impose my differences on them. To them I was different because I was an easterner living in western Canada; I was different because I was francophone in a francophobe community; I was different because I didn’t come from a rural background and share the same histories; and., I was different because of some unknown factors that shouted to them that I was different.
But deep down, I knew that I was different in some internal fundamental way, one that had nothing to do with my family of origin or in which communities I found myself raising a family and working. I didn’t know why I was different or exactly how I was different. I just knew I was the one not like the others.
“We are not here to fit in, be well balanced, or provide exempla for others. We are here to be eccentric, different, perhaps strange, perhaps merely to add our small piece, our little chinky, chunky selves, to the great mosaic of being. As the gods intended, we are here to become more and more ourselves. We, too, must enjoy amazement at what unfolds from within us while our multiplicious selves continue to incarnate in the world, contribute, and confound”. (Hollis,What Matters Most , page 11)
It was this pull to be more and more my self that set me apart. This being set apart doesn’t mean that I have to take on the job of trying to twist myself into all kinds of shapes in order to fit in. It has taken me a long time to accept that I am different and that it is okay to be different. I have learned to forgive myself for being different, for being the odd man out. And in the process of accepting my differences I am becoming even more different, more of a contrast. And to my mind, this is now good.