Do you ever wish you looked like everyone else? Perhaps you’ve wished you were like everyone else in some other respect.
The truth is, you are different. You know you are. You sometimes (maybe all the time) worry that everyone else knows it too.
In the fall of 1960, The Twilight Zone was in its second season. My favorite episode of the series was originally aired on November 11 of that year. It was titled “Eye of the Beholder.” It’s about a disfigured woman – we’re not told how she became so dreadful to look at – who undergoes plastic surgery in order to look more like everyone else.
Here’s a quick synopsis from Wikipedia:
Janet Tyler has undergone her eleventh treatment (the maximum number legally allowed) in an attempt to look like everybody else. The details of the treatment are not given, but Tyler is first shown with her head completely bandaged, so her face cannot be seen. She is described as being “not normal” by the nurses and doctor, whose own faces are always in shadows or off-camera.
The outcome of the procedure cannot be known until the bandages are removed. Tyler pleads with the doctor and eventually convinces him to remove the bandages early. After a climactic buildup, the bandages are removed, revealing to the audience that she is beautiful. However, the reaction of the doctor and nurses is disappointment; the operation has failed, her face has undergone “no change — no change at all”.
At this point, the doctor, nurses and other people in the hospital, whose faces have never been seen clearly before, are now revealed to be horribly deformed by our perspective, with large and thick brows, sunken eyes, swollen and twisted lips, and misshapen, pig-like snouts. Distraught by the failure of the procedure, Tyler runs through the hospital as the disfigured faces of everyone she runs into, the norm in this society, are revealed. Large monitors throughout the hospital project an image of the State’s despotic leader giving a speech calling for greater conformity.
Eventually, a handsome man (by our standards) afflicted with the same “condition” arrives to take the crying, despondent Tyler into exile to a village of her “own kind”, where her “ugliness” will not trouble the State. Before the two leave, the man comforts Tyler with the very, very old saying that “beauty is in the eye of the beholder”.
In many ways, we are all like Janet Tyler. We emphatically do not want to “stick out”, to be ostracized and made to feel like we’re “ugly”. So, we strive (and strive and strive) to fit in.
How’s that working for you? Do you fit in yet?
This is not intended to be mean or discouraging, but those were rhetorical questions. I know you don’t fit in.
Here’s why you don’t fit in: YOU’RE NOT SUPPOSED TO FIT IN! Fit in where? Fit into what? The mainstream?
I’ve got news for you: there is no mainstream. There is only the idea of mainstream. The notion of “mainstream” is a figment of the collective imagination. No one actually lives in it, but we’ve all – most of us, anyway – seem to have tacitly entered into an unwritten, unsigned agreement with everyone else whereby we act as though our neighbor is part of the mainstream as long as they agree to act as though we are part of the mainstream.
Here’s the funny part: no one is actually being obedient to the mandates that “mainstream” would impose on us. Fitting in, looking right, thinking right, buying only brand name, voting the right way, etc. Does anyone go with/fit the mainstream to a “T”? No. We’re all individual in some unique and wonderful way(s); only not enough of us know how wonderful. Too many of us think we’re too different; different in a bad way. If only everyone knew that no one fits in and that we’re not supposed to. We’re all misfits… and that’s a good thing.
Sadly, we don’t know. And so we order our lives in such a way as to create for ourselves a reality where we would all have ourselves to be viewed as the Great Oz in the eyes of everyone else. By constantly telling others – in a myriad of ways – not to pay any attention to the man behind the curtain, we voluntarily carry around, like an untied yoke, so many unnecessary stresses and anxieties.
The ironic truth is that if you’d stop trying to make people think you’re better than you really are, people will start to believe that you’re better than you probably really are.
You will be wise to never accept the mainstream way because it’s just an apparition. Why flow with the mainstream when you can board the raft in the tributary called [INSERT YOUR NAME] Jim’s Stream – – – – – ’s Stream. Don’t try to look or be like everyone else. Don’t even try to be different because that acknowledges that there’s something to be different from.
Just be you.
You don’t fit in because you’re not supposed to. You were designed to be beautiful and unique and special. And you are.
Now go. GO FLOW your own way!