I was watching a standup comedy last night by Tom Papa. It wasn't anything spectacular, but he had a quote that stuck with me for a while.
'You always hear these stories of kids who jumped of cliffs or went postal or whatever, and the news always says something like 'it's so sad, he just never fit in'. Really, I'm sick of hearing that. You know what? Nobody fits in. I don't fit in, you don't fit in, back row with the purple suit there certainly doesn't fit in. That's the way it is. Nobody truly fits in. Life is awkward like that.'
'I had kind of a disturbing realization this past week — and it really shook me up.
Be patient with me though. It might seem kind of superficial at first glance, but it’s not:
I am not an outsider. And neither are you.
Whoah. Crazy. This makes no sense.
Nope. Not an outsider. Not a freakish, weird, unconventional eccentric different-from-all-of-you outsider. Not even slightly.
Which is seriously messing with my head because — for as long as I can remember — outsider-ness has just been a natural part of my identity. It’s not just part of the story. It’s the whole damn narrative.
I guess the other way of phrasing this is that we are all equally outsiders and that none of us gets to claim the narrative as original, but I’m not ready for philosophizing.'
She later mentions this article in The Onion, Everyone In Family Claims To Be The Black Sheep.
I think these guys are getting at something here. Back when I was way, way more shy than I am now, I kept getting advice like 'just try to relax', 'nobody's judging you', yadda yadda. None of it was very effective, and I think the reason was it all focused on me. I wasn't the problem. The problem was that I expected that everyone else was different. Once you realize and remind yourself that most people have the same underlying emotions and thoughts, that stress just kind of dissolves.
It's also probably the best way to engage and meet people. There's a certain smile that comes out that just hints at a little bit of vulnerability, a little recognition that life is awkward and that's alright. You feel it as soon as you see it.
Some people are really good at giving that. It's also something that can be practiced consciously, especially in meditation... I'll definitely be working on this as part of RLU.