Conversation 3: A reader of my last conversation asked me if my thoughts about being different and not fitting in during my youth were any different to what other children and teenagers felt.
Conversations with God: Why am I different?
This was a very good question. The simple answer is, I don't know. I don’t know what other children, teenagers and adults feel. What I do know is that it is how I felt as a child and how I now feel as an adult.
I am more than ready to accept that others feel the same way and it may be that many people relate to what I am saying.
I also know that in addition to not feeling that I fit in with others, I did not feel they fitted in with me and now, as an adult, I do not want them to. As a child, there is an attraction to fitting in and believing that others fit in with you. As an adult, I have no such attraction. I am happy to be unique.
Why was, and am, I different? And why am I taking the time to have this series of conversations?
In my last conversation, I talked about how I was different. In the conversations to come, I'll discuss at length why I was different, or more specifically, what made me be that way. Suffice to say, I hope that we are all the product of nature (genetics) and nurture (environment), and see evidence that both genetics and my environment made me different.
The influence of nature and nurture on us all became very clear to me in my studies at university. Despite what many may think and say, both nature and nurture impact on us all in a unique way. Both make us what we are and this unique impact explains why even siblings can be very different, another issue I will examine in this series.
We all are the product of unique genetic and environmental stimuli. These stimuli can vary from time to time and according to the times. They can affect us all differently. We are all the result of the genetics that flow from our parents, the environment we grow up in, the socialisation process we are subjected to and how we react to that process.
My reaction to the socialisation process was a significant factor in making me who I am today. I will have a number of conversations about my rejection of socialisation – both conscious and unconscious.
This will take some time to articulate, just as it has taken time to understand.
Why I'm having these conversations is more readily articulated. It all started as an attempt to further my understanding of who I am and how I became this way. I am most certainly looking for a cathartic experience. I also want to use these conversations to help me better understand why others are who they are, and what genetic, environmental and socialising factors may have made them that way.
I hope that having these conversations will help me identify what my future should look like. Don’t get me wrong, I do not believe that my life has a purpose, but I do believe that some futures have the potential for greater happiness. I have looked very hard and researched widely, but I see no evidence whatsoever that any life, let alone mine, has a purpose. I find the notion as unfounded as a belief in God.
I am sure that there are many paths that each of us can travel and, as a result of our unique reaction to our nature and nurture, not all of them have the same potential to deliver happiness. I believe that better understanding who I am and how I came to be will better equip me to determine which of the available paths will deliver the greatest happiness.
My third reason for embarking on these conversations relates to a belief that they may be read by others and influence the way they evaluate the world around them. The words of others - those I have and haven't agreed with - have influenced the way I view the world. I am hoping that I can have a similar effect on others. In saying that, I have no hope or desire that readers will agree with me, just that I may cause them to think.
Fourthly, and in many respects most importantly, I am having these conversations with God in the hope that just one other person - but preferably many who are different and feel they don’t fit in - will feel a little better about themselves. In my youth, I saw all too many kids persecuted and bullied because of the inability of others to accept their differences.
Today, I still see children, teenagers and adults criticised, taunted, excluded and even persecuted simply because they do not fit in, or accept and behave in accordance with accepted norms. I hope my words can help some of these people recognise that the acceptance of others has little, if any, real value.
Finally, like many people, I am vain enough to want to leave a mark and hope that these conversations may help in this regard. I know that I am no JD Salinger and will never draft something like Catcher in the Rye, and I know I am not Harper Lee and will never draft a novel like To Kill a Mocking Bird, but hopefully my words will leave some small legacy.
Most of us have egos that need feeding. Mine is no exception.