Were you ever the odd one out?
By Amornrat Sidhu
Human beings have an innate desire to be accepted and understood by those around them, and this leads to both a conscious and subconscious journey called acculturation, the “assimilation to a different culture, typically the dominant one.”
Social interactions with members of the majority help members in the minority benchmark how they should behave. Adjusting and mimicking the majority, be it a way of thinking, acting, or speaking, often helps them feel acknowledged and accepted, because when all members of a group think and act the same, this engenders a sense of “feeling right and being right.”
However, we’ve all experienced points when we’ve been the odd one out, but didn’t want to assimilate. Have you ever been outmanned or outnumbered at some point in your life? Did you stand your ground and, thus, stand alone? Masala asked members of the community which way they travelled when they came to a crossroads within.
Keeping My Company Corporate
Account Director at Insider, 27
While my brothers joined and enriched my parents’ businesses, I felt drawn to the excitement and independence corporate life offered. Thus, as the youngest of three siblings, it made sense for me to pursue a professional career instead of following in my brothers’ footsteps.
Most of our dinner conversations revolve around our family’s businesses. I am obviously not fully involved due to my choice to pursue a corporate career, and therefore am continuously trying to play catch-up. My family, however, always try to keep me in the loop, and I greatly appreciate it.
While I am incredibly grateful for the investment of time and effort my family has put into the business, working in a corporate environment since the age of 21 has given me a sense of independence, accountability, and network that I value deeply.
R&D Manager at Little Spoon, 31
During the Californian winters, my friends and I often drive to the mountains to enjoy a weekend getaway of snowboarding or skiing. Amongst this group, there are those of us who would rather stay back at the Airbnb and cook, relax in the hot tub, or stroll through town. I was part of the latter group.
I was constantly picked on because of my fear of getting injured while “shredding the gnar.” At first, I felt like I really was missing out on something when I’d see Instagram stories of my friends at the après-ski. I’d stayed back with my book and glass of mulled wine, and my friends would never let me forget it.
Over the years, however, this solitude and me-time became my happy place. It took me 4-5 years of taking these trips to realise that it is perfectly okay for me to do what makes me happy despite my friends’ efforts to convince me otherwise.
Tabby and Me
Digital Marketing Manager, 24
There can be an unspoken pressure for people like myself in their early 20s to dedicate most of their downtime on weekends to party, drink, or travel. I currently spend most of my downtime being chapters-deep into books about real estate and investing, or testing techniques to better parent my foster cat.
I find myself almost sticking out like a sore thumb among my social circle, as I am the only one who has adopted this time-consuming responsibility of fostering the sweetest orange tabby cat from an animal shelter. I have received mixed reactions from my friends and the people around me, wondering why I didn’t just buy a pure-bred younger cat, to being disappointed that I couldn’t join certain parties at the last minute. For example, I had to bail on a friend’s birthday party that I committed to weeks in advance because I had to take my cat to the ER for medical needs.
I handle these varied reactions by reflecting on how this experience has changed me. It has taught me lessons about cat training, responsible ownership, my own shortcomings, effectively thinking ahead, the importance of a strong support network, and a glimpse into parenthood. I think our foster cat will always feel larger than life in my mind and heart – even if this makes me ‘the odd man out.’
Fight for Fitness
Brand Manager and Fitness Coach, 31
I was fulfilling a marketing role at a very well-known company. It was a lucrative, sought-after job, but after seeing how burnt out and tied down my managers were, with the full knowledge that the company saw me at the same place 3-5 years down the line, I decided to embrace my passion for fitness and leave the company.
At first, I decided to be safe and keep my full-time job while working as a fitness instructor. However, as I received more certifications, first as a personal trainer, then as a sports nutritionist, and now as an Ayurveda wellness practitioner, I became more obsessed with wellness and left the job.
There was backlash from the Thai-Indian community, as I had ultimately chosen a job with no stability. I lost all benefits in terms of health care, a provident fund, and scheduled and normal work hours, to name a few. Furthermore, the COVID-19 pandemic hit and studios shut, so I wasn’t making any money. As time passed, I found a balance to marry my two passions, marketing and fitness, and pursue both at the same time. This gave me the stability I needed, and the freedom I desired, all at once.
The Take Away
We will always find ourselves in situations where we might stand in isolation, or within a minority. If inclusion is what we intrinsically seek, then we have two options: either to forfeit our way of doing things and alter our behaviour, or the braver choice, to defend our actions and keep doing them regardless. With the latter, should you be accepted, you will be recognised and valued for who you are. Should you not, you might have to bear some hard truths about yourself and the people around you. Yet, these lessons are extremely valuable, upon reflection. Either way, it seems to be worth it to be the ‘odd one out.’