I have often felt more like an observer of the human condition rather than a full participant in it. I have never been a joiner, other than the rather aberrant one of joining the military. Clearly an outsider view of the world.
There are obviously pros to being an insider. As an insider (U of T, Harvard, Yale, old Rosedale money, pur laine in Quebec), the advantage is that you are known by your family rather than just for yourself. Handy for making connections, getting married or getting jobs, insider trading, etc. The disadvantage, it seems to me, is that you are bound by the unwritten (and often unspoken) rules which can be very rigid and unforgiving. Marrying outside your “class” is unforgiveable; much like “going native” was unforgivable for a British officer in India. As an insider, you can get media coverage whenever you do anything – anything – just because of your name. (As an outsider author, this one really bites for me. I have had and continue to have trouble getting any kind of media coverage.) You are a celebrity because you are a celebrity.
I think that insiders must have real problems with their self of self-worth … whenever they think of it. Do people listen to me, like me, date me, etc. because of who I am or because of what I represent? How can I possibly know if my friendships are real or based on a perception of how useful I can be to someone?
Of course, all of this is based on an outsider’s view of what an insider’s life is like.
As an outsider, if someone professes to be a friend, you know it isn’t because of your name or heritage or the school you went to. You can do fairly outrageous things and people will say it’s just your way. If you get a good education, get a good job, marry a good person, earn respect in your community, you know it happened because you made it happen.
In answer to the question “Did being an outsider help me get along in this world? Who am I really?”, I am Guy, son of Frank and Claire, Carroll’s husband, father of Francis, Sheevaun, Meredith and Christian, grandfather to Cian and Isabella, brother to Ance, Meredith and Stuart, brother-in-law to Maryan, Kathy, Marko and Barbara, father-in-law to Mary and Laura, making my way in this world one day, one step at a time.
I note that my “self” is tightly associated with relationships. What I did or what I do is not, never was, what I am.