Being Different

Sometimes people’s voices confuse me. Some tell me to be authentic. Some others tell me to be “normal” and “fit” into society. While adjusting to both sides is not as easy as a lot of people say it is. Sometimes attempting to please our surroundings, being good at career, maintaining relationships, and all while trying to be authentic feels like a battle. Sometimes it makes me worry whether I am fit enough to my surrounding. The attire I wore, the words I chose, the idea I expressed, the things I did. It was all because I was afraid to be rejected.

I remember one day my friends and I had a dinner with one of my favorite lecturers in school. We talked about a lot of things, but one thing that I can never forget was about being different.

He gave us an interesting case:

“Suppose we have an aquarium with 100 fish in it. Ninety-nine of them are one-eyed, and only one fish has two eyes. In this context, which side is normal? Which side do you think will be oppressed to be ‘normal’?”

All of us remained silent for a moment. Everybody knew one-eyed fish is a freak, but when it is the majority, then the opposite side is unusual.

“Now let’s see another case” he continued. “We still have a hundred fish in an aquarium. But this time, ninety-nine of them are two-eyed, and only one fish has one eye. Now, which side is normal?” he continued.

This time everyone easily answered that the one eyed is the odd one.

“Why are you so sure about this one?” he asked.

One of us replied, “Well, biologically one-eyed fish is unnatural, but when 99 of them are one-eyed than statistically the one fish is the outlier. In other words, it’s not normal.”

“See, even though we are sure about one fact, the condition of its surrounding might make us doubt to the validity of that fact.”

Neither me nor my friends talk. We remained silent as we tried to understand the words he just said. A new perspective that probably none of us ever got before.

After a while, he started talking again.

“Sometimes we might feel right to be different, some other times we might be the one who is right but just want to give up and follow the flow of majority. So every time we face that kind of situation, think again, in which side are we in. And how do we define ‘normality’?”

—*—

I can never forget that discussion. I didn’t fully understand what he was saying at that moment, but those words are getting more and more relevant nowadays.

The question now, “how do we define ‘normality’?”

Sadly, I haven’t found the answer.

Leave a Reply