The swirling gossip circles toward me and immediately, I raise my head like a predator. Floating voices say he is difficult. I see the annoyed expressions as they return. I am overwhelmed with pity as I sit far far away. But curiosity rises inside me…and most importantly, an urge to take the challenge seizes me entirely.
I am so compelled to help him.
Only because I used to be like that. I used to be the outcast, perhaps deliberately. I wanted to be accepted desperately, but failed. I wanted to sit with the popular girls at lunch, not sitting alone, seized with anxiety that everyone was watching me eating alone. And in an effort to rationalize my failure, I would differentiate myself. “Don’t be normal, be different!” was my motto for years. And although I don’t say it anymore, I hold principles that I cannot break…I still don’t own an iPhone, I deliberately chose to get a mac, and seek out places that nobody has heard of.
I see him and there is only sorrow. Everyone wants to be accepted. Everyone also wants to be appreciated and not forgotten. I walk over and say pleasantries. And yet, is there a difference between him and me? Because I was desperately seeking for acceptance from everyone and was willing to compromise for it? And because he is desperately seeking for acceptance but is unwilling to compromise?