I imagine that the first outsider was some sort of caveman, and I bet it didn’t take too much for the cavepeople council to banish some poor filthy hairy sod to the cave over, or perhaps the fetid swamp beyond the hill, or even Disneyland. Maybe he ate too much sloth burger, or coveted the wrong cavewoman, didn’t keep up with advancements in evolution, who knows. When you are in some kind of society, any kind, you gotta get along or face the wrath, disdain, or indifference of the many.

People learn this very early in life. Preschool actually has nothing whatsoever to do with cutting and pasting and macaroni art, it is all about learning HOW TO FIT IN. At that age a big expectation is that you SIT DOWN SIT DOWN SIT DOWN SIT DOWN AND STAY SEATED. It is a really hard thing to do because the average 3 or 4 year old has a 0.5 second attention span and often has an uncontrollable urge to jump up and screech like a bird for no reason. Imagine this in a board meeting 30 years down the line. Preschoolers also learn to not pee and poop in their pants, another thing frowned on in the corporate world. Unless the sales figures were just off the f-ing chart. So, sit down, shut up, and don’t crap yourself: the first lessons of avoiding outsiderdom.

In elementary school, it becomes all about Following The Rules and Recognizing Authority and stays this way for awhile. It becomes very obvious who are Leaders and who are Followers. It doesn’t matter if you like the leaders or agree with them, unless you can trump them in a epic Mario Kart battle or get a note to give to your principal saying you are incorrigible/crazy and need breaks from class several times a day to take your meds and/or eat Cheetos and spin. More or less, you will find yourself in groups all the time, and you have to accept your place, know your role, or face Lunchtime Shun or Picked Last For Everything or Playdate = HAHAHA, NO.

In Middle and High School, there is a distinct splintering of the General Groups into the Specific Clans. They have different names over the years but seem to settle into these categories:

1. Jocks/Cheerleaders
2. Drama/Band Geeks
3. Tech/AV Geeks
4. DrugsDrugsDrugs
5. Fat n’ Funny
6. Smarter Than The Rest
7. Better Looking Than You
8. Rich
9. Poor
10. Special Eds
11. Goth/Emo/Punk/Music Is My Life
12. Overachiever
13. Underachiever
14. I <3 Prison
15. Zits
16. Has A Car/Can Buy Beer
17. Early Breast/Facial Hair Developers
18. Hoes
19. I Cannot Stop Skateboarding/ Uncontrolled ADHD
20. Completely Average In Every Possible Measurement
21. I Date My American History Teacher, Shh
22. GED Is For Me/Sleeping In Class

The secret category #23 is the Outsider, the ones who default into None Of The Above. They may be completely friendless, have one or two other Outsider pals, or may be quite popular with many of the groups, but really aren’t in any of them. Either way, at this point the Outsider is very well aware of his or her status, and is either miserable or empowered by it. Or both.

What happens to the Outsider? It depends on why that person is one, and how they choose to deal with their away status. Being alone gives one lots of extra time to think. This can bum you the f out, or it can make you think of all kinds of interesting things, like a better way to skin a mastodon, how to blow hilarious snot bubbles, the perfect way to build a fort, how to build a website to rate your crappy teachers that ends up being bought by Google, or even the Theory of Relativity.

Sometimes, maybe most times, it is the Outsider who has the time and distance and reasons to make things happen that otherwise would be lost to Groupthink and easy acceptance. Outsiders might be inspired to earn their way into a group, or they might want to become the Leader at the end of the day, or end up that way even if they don’t want it. They might find great peace in being separate, to answer to no one. But there seems to be some strength gained, painful as it might be, from being different and choosing to deal with it.

Our shunned caveman had to get his solo act together, or perish. He had to get stronger or his genes would die out and Cavey McGetalong would get the goods, aka Sheila Bisoncooker. Some things never change.

The Kinks -- "I'm On An Island"