Being Different

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Everyone claims to be different. And in a clinical sense, everyone is truly different; even identical twins have their numerous differences. But these identifiable differences among any two persons, regardless of how physically and behaviourally similar they are, manifest on a micro level. A level I am not concerned with in this post. I am focusing on a macro level. Being so different in the way you think and act that they are the first things people notice about you. Being so different that people can't seem to stop telling you how weird you are. That's the kind of being different I would be talking about in this post.


The singular factor that shapes us the most, molding us into whom we eventually become for the most part of our lives, is our immediate environment. That you speak English; that you even wear clothes; that you are computer literate; that you work in a specialised field; that you won't eat raw meat; and the so many other peculiarities about you are mostly the result of your living in this present age and not the stone age, the country and family you were born in and the people you live around. So to be different in the way you think and act, you need to have a very unique immediate environment. And there are two ways to have a very uncommon immediate environment: you are either born into one (a very rare occurrence) or you internally generate your own unique immediate environment.

Almost everyone I meet says I am different in my way of thinking and in the actions I take. So I can safely say that I qualify to be regarded as being different. But how did I acquire my difference? In my case I wasn't born into a unique family or into unique environment. I have a regular amazing parents and I had a typical unamazing Nigerian environment. My almost extreme difference is purely a result of my mind; internally generated. Aided immensely by too much reading and an obsession for a logical explanation of things. At an early age I found it easy and enjoyable to overwrite my natural immediate environment. I became unspontaneous and rebellious (in my own little way). Slow in making up my mind and slower in changing it. And I seldom form an opinion on things, preferring to observe rather than define. I am immune to peer pressure and not easily affected by societal pressures. I avoid competitions because of the limiting rules. And I like to do what no one else is doing, to attempt the very difficult and to go from one challenge to another.

Being different has both its good sides and bad sides. Some of the good sides for me are: I can work long and repeatedly at a task just because I enjoy it rather than for anything it can give me (money, recognition or girls); I have some uncommon skills that are the result of the different lifestyle I chose (skills like excessive reading and intensive computer programming); and I enjoy doing the boring, important and unglamorous part of any project. And some of the bad sides for me are: I find it really hard to have very close friends and mentors (I'm almost always thinking of things not people); people don't understand me so I have to always project a very simplistic version of me; I can't seem to control the amount of work I engage in (I'm addicted to work); and I am terrible at showing how much I care about others.

Everyone has his good sides and bad sides, regardless of where you lie on the societal conformity spectrum. The trouble with being different is that yours are essentially the swapping of the good and bad sides of more regular people. The things I enjoy are what most people do not enjoy and the things I avoid are what most people seek out. So being different can be very hard to manage. Whenever I hear people refer happily and proudly to themselves as being very different I see two possibilities: either they have friends and family who are not giving them tough time for being different or they are only clinically different.


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