MATALAM, North Cotabato (MindaNews / 11 Oct) – Did you ever feel you are a misfit because you are so different from the rest of the gang?
For years, I felt like a misfit too.
When I was in the elementary grades, I got more excited solving math problems than playing the usual childhood games. In high school, I was shy and introverted. In college, I’d rather think of what best to write about rather than go somewhere with friends for what they call a “gimmick.” And now at work, while my officemates love to travel, I was more interested staying at home and read books or surf the internet in search of some good “reads.” If I have to travel, it’s usually because I have to attend out-of-town meetings or seminars; something that I love to do.
Until now I don’t talk much, unlike most of my friends who can lead and fire up lengthy conversations especially during “drinking sprees.” At times, I envy them for being such a good talker and they can run the conversation for hours. At other times, I blame myself for not being the conversation leader in the group.
In one seminar, our resource person spoke about the topic “The Art of Listening.” He started by saying: “Anyone can hear, but not everybody listens. It is not actually what you hear that matters. It is the MESSAGE that comes across towards you and how you process it so that it becomes useful to you.”
From that time on, I have ditched that feeling of not being a good conversationalist.
Communication is a two-way process. On one hand, it involves the art of conveying the message so that it becomes easily understood. Like foods, those that are readily digestible are better. The other one involves the art of listening. Good listeners have better retention abilities than those who are not.
The problem of worrying that you are different could bring you into a situation where you struggle to fit in. To be able to do that, you have to change “gear” more often depending on the type of group you are with. Such situation will make you feel that you are always “inadequate,” and therefore, you have to do more to be able to “fit in.”
But knowing what I know now, I would tell my younger self: “There is nothing wrong with you. You’re just different from them.” Psychologists and behavior experts used tell us that: if there are 10 persons in the room, you are dealing with 10 different personalities. Each one of them has some kind of uniqueness from the others. One may have special skill the others don’t possess. Others may have a good voice and that is why they can sing well. Still others may be good in some cognitive skills. Don’t struggle to be perfect or like everyone else because that is simply impossible.
One time, Bob Marley was asked. “What is a perfect woman for you?” And he answered: “Who cares for the perfect woman? There is no such thing! The sky is vast and infinitely beautiful, but it is always cloudy. The moon is awfully beautiful but it is full of craters. The sea is amazingly beautiful but it is salty and dark in the depth. You see, they are not perfect. They are only special.”
So, one does not have to strive to be perfect. You can be different on your own and someone will always find you special for who you are.
(MindaViews is the opinion section of MindaNews. Maugan P. Mosaid holds a doctorate degree in rural development. He is a planning consultant and teaches Statistics and Methods of Research in the graduate school. He can be contacted at email@example.com.)