If you are going to be anybody who achieves anything above and above the average, then you are going to be an outsider because people who are nothing but virtual and literal clones of everybody else are never going to be any more or less than the people they are like. This is why there is such an animal as a “Third Generation Welfare Dependent.” Once you are inside a prescribed path, such as welfare dependency, there is little chance of the ordinary person ever breaking free and becoming something else.
You can be an outsider wherever you fail to fit in — to fit the mould — to get on board with the agenda … to be part of the team. In other words, society demands that you conform in order to succeed and if you refuse to conform then the total society seems bent on working to make sure that you are seen as “The Other” and that you are destined to fail.
Some people can even be “Outsiders” within the bounds of their own family group. “Marty isn’t like the rest of us so we don’t have all that much to do with him.”
For all the years I was in public school I was an outsider. I didn’t like Gym class and refused to wear shorts, to take showers with the rest of the class, to play basketball and to compare penis sizes with my curious contemporaries. I was “The Odd Man Out” in school but I was also “The Class Brain” that got all the awards for academic achievement. The only people who liked me were the “Nerds.” The girls all went google-eyed over the varsity basketball and track star jocks. I had to beg the ugliest girl in school to go to my proms with me. But in the end, I had my revenge because I ended up marrying the hottest chick in town. Don’t ask me how that happened because I am not sure I know myself.
Even today I am still trying to figure out everything there is to know about why I was “Different” in school. It couldn’t have been a racial thing because almost a Hundred percent of my classmates, all through school, were caucasians. It couldn’t have been my gender or sexual orientation because I was a guy in the middle of a whole bunch of people tuned to the theory of “It’s a Man’s World” and I was straight as an arrow (For the most part) in a local social order of stern-faced, highly proper and dignified Methodists, Presbyterians, Catholics and Baptists. Nobody could have been more properly stiff necked and stuffed shirt than I was.
My problems did not stem from my cultural values because back in those days my cultural values were so confused they might just as well have never existed. I knew I was the offspring of poor half-educated escapees from the Appalachian areas of the country and I was raised to believe that being poor and nobody was a noble and honorable calling. I became a true outsider the day I looked at all those expectations and said, “F**k that! I am not going to settle for that!” From that point forward I was regarded as “Thinking He Is Better Than Anybody Else.”
There were times when I enjoyed being different. There were times when I was haunted by being considered as “Different.” One of the times I enjoyed being different was when I earned ten times my Dad’s weekly wages in just one day’s effort. One of the times I didn’t enjoy my state was the time that I failed to appear to be “Christian Enough” to the family of a little fat farm girl who I wanted to take to my Junior Prom. Instead of the “Proper” Christian-Raised perfect priss, I ended up with a slut. It was jarring in the beginning, but after a little bit of exposure, my defeat turned to victory.
Most of the time, being thought of as “That Strange Young Man With The Strange Ideas” gave me a sense of exhilarating liberation … a freedom that I instinctively knew was enjoyed by very few other people … if by anybody at all. I liked the feeling of watching other people trying to figure me out and squirming in their defeat at doing so. It was a kind of empowerment. I made use of it later in life when I was in business. It was my daily pledge to “Be Nice To Them But Always Keep Them Guessing.” That is one of the reasons I kept a sign behind my desk, on the wall that read, “I Got Where I Am By Kissing Ass And I Am Proud Of It.”
I perfected the art of Ambiguity which enhanced my complexity as an individual exponentially, turning me eventually from the ordinary guy to somebody who could relate to anybody on the socio-economic scale. This, in turn, became a valuable weapon to wield in the cut-throat world of corporate America. It is always best to be a little bit invisible and to be able to change personas at will when circumstances demand it. “Good Guy, Bad Guy” sells a lot of high-dollar contracts.
Once these principles were engaged, my bonuses took on almost equal value to my boners. Becoming a cultural ex-patriate for the sake of moving a bottom line forward is an advantage, not a disadvantage and it takes a special personality to be able to do that and to live with it. My often awkward disengagement from the social status quo demonstrated the pragmatism in this approach on more than one occasion. You billionaires out there will know exactly where I am coming from on this one!
Thanks for your attendance and your attention.