I was very young when I first found my fascination for outsiders. The teacher was reading Snow White and we were all sitting on the floor around her listening.
The fairy tale, like many others, taught us that life was very straightforward. There are good people and bad people. It all made sense, it all felt safe. Then a question popped in my head. “What made the Queen so evil? Was she ugly when she was little and made fun of?” After that, I could only think about how much better it would be if the plot was about the origins of the evil Queen.
We’ve constantly heard that we’re primarily deeply social creatures by nature. We also know deep down that social banishment is extremely threatening to our evolutionary welfare. So what happens when there are exceptions? What happens when there are people who don’t have an instinct to belong – who choose the Involutionary path instead of the Evolutionary way? What about those people who don’t care about being popular? Or those that don’t place social rejection at the top of their ‘fear lists’?
This is where the outsider is born.
Typical is Strange
Innately we are born aimless beings. Slowly and unwittingly through our childhood, we are given a standard of what it is we should aspire for and pursue. Prestige, fear, money and power are the typical incentives.
For instance, your typical job is a draining 50 years of work unrelated to your true passions, and your belief system isn’t fulfilling either, especially when deep down you know it creates a world replete with inequality. Your typical health and eating habits are pretty bad as well, not to mention the thousands of typical debt you have in your bank account. Even your typical marriage is statistically bound for failure, while your typical lack of self-exploration leads to a personally unfulfilled and emotionally reactive life.
The general mentality is: It’s good enough for everyone else, so why not me? Nobody really wants any of those typical things, but most will continue to pretend.
Outsiders have learned that society’s standard should have nothing to do with their own. Does having higher standards mean they think they’re better than everyone else? No. It means everyone else is running below their capacity, and outsiders want to make up for the distance. Involutionary Outsiders gauge their progress against what’s typical, and instead base their standards on their own thoughts and feelings – not what’s normal.
Many will argue that if we’re all so typical, how did we create such brilliant innovations in science, spirituality, technology, literature and so forth? In fact, it was not our human specie as a whole who delivered these incredible feats, but fierce outsider individuals who deviated from the comfortable “typical” (such as Socrates, Jesus, Galileo, Jung, Picasso), who were often received harshly by the “typicals” of the time.
Typicals will always encourage you to be typical. To advise you otherwise would force them to have to re-evaluate their typical standards as well. Tell someone you want to become a writer instead of studying medicine and they’ll respond with telling you what a dangerous and bad career choice that is. Tell someone you want to become a vegetarian and you’ll be met with stories of friends of friends who became vegetarians and started loosing their hair, turning yellow or going blind.
Involutionary Outsiders will always be marginalized. They are ridiculed, bullied and feared. To the typical, they are alien and unpredictable. Not only that but it’s impossible to empathize with them as well – how can you predict what they are thinking? Or what they will do? They have their own standards, their own rules, their own strange patterns of internal growth. To the typical, outsiders have so much freedom that the uncertainty of what they’ll do with it is terrifying.
To be an outsider takes courage, to be typical takes conformity. The fear of sticking out and screwing up is too great. The safest way is the old way, the proven way, the boring way. The typical way.
The Involutionary Outsider
“Outsider” is a broad term that covers many different types of people. Generally, outsiders are characterized by social ostracism and their existence outside the circle of social normality.
While some are voluntarily outsiders, choosing to focus their attention on the inner world of the mind and heart, others aren’t. Some are outsiders due to their ideas, beliefs, social status’ or their physical, emotional or mental differences, while others are outsiders through a mental illness or trauma, gender, hobby, family, nationality, personality or cultural trend.
In essence, ‘outsider’ is a shallow umbrella term used to describe an amazing diversity of people. These people all share the same symptoms on the surface: solitude, eccentricity and social rejection.
As an outsider myself, I’m hoping to explore the various causes and origins of solitude, eccentricity and social rejection. I’m also wanting to delve inside the different lives of these Involutionary Outsiders, or as Robert Frost so eloquently put: of these wanderers of the paths least taken.
I shall be telling this with a sigh
Somewhere ages and ages hence:
Two roads diverged in a wood, and I,
I took the one less traveled by,
And that has made all the difference.
~ Robert Frost (The Road Not Taken)
Becoming an outsider is part of the process of spiritual awakening. Read more on the topic of spiritual awakening.
Feel free to share with me your experiences of being an outsider below.