Wednesday, November 29, 2006

Alienation


One of the paradoxes of life is the desire to fit in yet at the same time be different. This internal struggle seems to be at its height when we are teenagers. We experiment with extremes under the pretext of expressing our individualism, yet we do so to get attention and be accepted.

Part of the irony of the struggle to be an individual is that it so often fosters fads that are embraced by the masses. Hair length, hair color, piercings, tattoos, baggy clothing, tight clothing, black clothing, torn clothing and old clothing all have been popular ways of expressing how different and the same we are.

Generally, whatever annoys us as adults is adopted by the younger generation. And what we adopted that annoyed our parents is scoffed at by our children. It is a cycle that repeats itself over and over, yet none of use seem to be aware of it when were are swept up in it. This explains why we allowed things like disco to cloud our judgement in the 70s.

I've come to the conclusion that more often than not, marching to the beat of a different drummer just means you don't have any rhythm. If we truly want to be different, we have to stop being the same. And not being the same requires either courage or the ability to be oblivious. You also have to enjoy being alone. Because unless you are different in the same way as other people, no one really wants to hang with you.

How do we resolve the paradox? I think the answer is a cliche: just be yourself. If you truly are unique, you can't hide it. And if you aren't, no one will notice you anyway.

Not really much comfort, is it?
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