Aah, a dichotomy. But, what do you fear more? Being different? Or being the same?
Late one hot summer night, driving up the coast for a camping trip, we stopped at an anonymous service station to fill up. One of the guys had just bought a brand new electric toothbrush, and had been taking every opportunity to use it, because of the novelty. So, as we opened up the back of the car to get some snacks, he pulled it out and switched it on and just started brushing away right there next to the petrol pump. At this moment, a group of kids was walking out of the shop: young, backwards caps, skateboards, you know the type. They looked over at this scruffy barefoot guy brushing his teeth outside the servo, started sniggering, and then just ran off. And someone said "Look at them - all being different in the same way".
I have worn backwards caps and gone skating with mates and laughed at hobos. Why did we do this? We each thought that that was what the others wanted us to do. That stage you go through, where appearing 'cool' is paramount, every sentence, every word weighed against its appeal to the group. Silly teenage boys and their peer pressure, we say. They'll mature. But the cynic inside us whispers, no one ever really gets past this stage completely.
We want to be cool and attractive and quirky and different and to set trends. But, not too different. We don't want anyone thinking we're weird. We want to be different, and to be the same as everyone else, all at once.
There is a part of me that wants to drop out of everything and throw down societies' absurd niceties and die young, a dark, troubled suicide with a legacy of inscrutable and challenging art. Or possibly radical politics. The people who knew me would talk about me in whispers, saying such things as "genius", "crazy", "what an amazing person", and "he changed the way I thought".
There is another part of me that wants to live an utterly utterly normal life. To graduate, and get a boring 9-to-5 job, which I would do well and have a quiet satisfaction in. I would find a wonderful wife and have 2.4 kids, who would grow up seeing me as a sane, normal, dependable person. We would have dinner every now and again with friends' couples and families, and on Fridays I'd go down to the pub and drink and watch the footy with the boys.
Every day I care less about what other people think. And every day, these two parts struggle inside of me. Occasionally, I think about this question again. Which scenario scares me more? Do I fear being different, or do I fear being the same?