Many people struggle with issues relating to identity: sexual orientation; second-generation nationality; political affiliation or even class identity.  I wonder however – how many other people have given serious thought to identity issues relating to their humanity?

When I speak of ‘humanity’ I am not making a reference solely to the ethics or morality that so clearly defines the distinct differences between humans and the other inhabitants of this planet.  If you have read my short bio you will already have seen the glinting glimmer – the faint hint of an insight into what others might describe as a somewhat troubled psyche.

If so – when I say that at times in my life I have given serious thought to the notion I may be from another planet – you will have a better understanding than most that I am not joking:  that I am not attempting to be eccentric; that I am not making an exhibitionist attempt to be interesting.  Instead – there have been far too many moments when I have gazed at the stars and not only wondered, but longed for the possibility that some alien civilisation would descend with answers.  Answers to the numerous questions that have at times, and continue to, pervade my mind: why do I seem so different to others? Why don’t I ever truly fit in? Why are my thought processes in such conflict with those of others and why do I seem to walk through life so out of sync?

If you read through my previous blog “Where are all the dinosaurs?” you will see that I have an issue with the role religion played in my formative years.  The dictum that “bad associations spoil useful habits” meant myself, and the other children whose parents belonged to the same faith, were actually segregated from the masses during school assembly.  We weren’t allowed to sing hymns and we weren’t allowed to, more so – it was frowned upon, to stay after school to partake in extra-curricular activities.

This isolating and attention drawing behaviour didn’t exactly help me overcome my natural tendencies to seek my own company; to steer clear of the crowd and to question the motives of those around me.  In fact – this was only the tip of the iceberg, when it came to the social obstacles that I would have to overcome as a result of this ‘faith’.

Being asked to participate in the ‘field service’ as a child: knocking on doors to spread the ‘good word’ may have provided me with a vehicle to improve my communicative abilities, or perhaps even to bolster my confidence – but it also ensured there was yet another cross to bear when it came to interacting socially with my peers.

I seem to spend life on the periphery – observing and wondering how others so confidently engage with one another, how people seem so cock-sure and so comfortable when throwing caution to the wind.  I went through secondary education without the confidence to be cool and bereft of the latent intellect to be a geek.  So – I again spent time in a self-imposed isolated bubble.

Through college and all the way through my working career I have struggled to find that sense of laissez-faire that every other sole seems to possess in abundance – that every other ‘human’ seems able to call upon to engage.  Instead I endure each day by wearing a mask – the disarming smile and wit I use as a shield to keep the inquiring minds at bay.

When it comes to building up personal relationships with others, I tend to keep people on the outside – never granting them access to the inner sanctum, the safe zone I inhabit inside the concentric circles that form the emotional barriers I have built up to get me through each day.

And so I’ve often wondered.  Often thought – why do I find the accepted normal sense of belonging so hard to attain?  Why do I feel so claustrophobic in large social gatherings?  Why do I have these personality hang-ups that so often get in my way?  Can this possibly be normal?  Am I not just slightly strange?

And so I have actually thought.  I have actually wondered.  Am I just in the wrong place?  Could there be a reason why life seems so strange?

But I know I am not from another planet.  I know that all humans aren’t the same.  I even know that I probably just have an issue with social interaction – and that simple mental exercises will probably help get me through the day.  But I haven’t sought medical advice – no, it wasn’t until I opened up and discussed these feelings with a friend, it wasn’t until I saw that wonderful #whatstigma hash-tag Twitter campaign – that I began to realise; that I began to truly understand.

There would be no such thing as humanity, if we were all the same.

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Comments
  1. Phil Ruse says:

    Embrace the difference. I loved this post 🙂

    • Many thanks, I try :). I still have loads of moments where I look around at everyone else and wonder how they feel so comfortable in their skin, in their surroundings :). Then there are moments when I am invincible in my confidence (or pretend to be 😉 ); these moments usually coincide with me being extroverted; dancing; playing football etc.

  2. […] You see, it was also at this moment in the book, the final act; when we hear the Sheriff declare his intent to protect Boo Radley’s way of life and Scout’s moment of self-reflection, that my mind wandered as I thought of the observation I hinted at in another blog ‘Square Peg, Round Planet’. […]

  3. Rachycakes says:

    Mark,

    This is a very brave post for someone claiming to reside on the fringe of ‘living’! I’m delighted that you wrote it, proud of you for posting it.

    From reading your articles on a regular basis (you have fans!), I’ve the sense that you’re gradually blossoming with each one, exploring your ideas and emotions; using the blog as a device of exploration, discovery and, as a by-product, interaction.

    I think in accepting oneself, one has also to understand that experience is wholly subjective: there’s no such thing as objective experience, an objective world. We each live it as best we can, in the ways that sit best with us. However, there comes a point when we’re pushed out of our comfort zone when we find a medium for expression and human interaction (whatever the form that may take). You, my friend, have found yours. Make it your own, as only you know how.

    Rae

    • Thank you. Humbling feedback, yet again.
      I am not sure if it is the blogging or just the writing that is having a cathartic effect – but I can’t deny the existence of the effect.

  4. i really loved this article and the way you are able to describe your views so clearly. the way you write too is very interesting because your thoughts seem so organized. 🙂

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