“It is what it is.”
– Ted Turner (while discussing his failed marriages)
Being alone provided me with a lot of free time. I used this time to explore. I watched documentaries, listened to lectures, read books, and aimlessly browsed the Wikipedia. On the surface these activities may not sound important, but I consider them to have had a tremendous impact on my interactions with the world.
By locking myself into a perpetual cycle of learning, I uncovered numerous sources of “esoteric” knowledge. I studied obscure philosophers, alternative health, ancient Japanese swordsmen, and strange theories on human existence. The deeper I delved into this “forbidden” knowledge, the less I could relate to others. For some reason I began to think of myself as “superior” in some way. I’d take my knowledge and hide it from the world. This elitist mentality eventually reached the point where I spent almost an entire summer by myself, studying away in isolation like a medieval monk.
In hindsight, I think my mentality was fueled more by fear than pride. You can only deviate so far from the social norm before becoming a “freak.” I was afraid that everything I believed and practiced would be ridiculed, that society would ostracize me. Instead of face that fate I chose self-exile, figuring that it would yield the same destination while saving me the embarrassment. This was one of the top five stupidest decisions I ever made.
When I finally got over myself and started expressing my opinions, my social standing actually improved. People were interested in what I had to say and were intrigued by my unconventional viewpoints. The actual me, the one I had spent so much time trying to conceal, turned out to be a pretty cool guy. In the end it didn’t matter what I thought or did, as long I was myself.
P.S. If you thought the moral of this story was too positive, you’ll like tomorrow’s post.