When I landed at Wharton, the constant refrain I heard was – “MBA is all about networking. So build connections and make friends.”
Academics and learning seemed to just be a sideshow. But unfortunately, as an introvert, I hated networking.
Even while serving in the IPS, the thing I dreaded the most was not the riotous mobs, but the evening parties where you had to be artificially polite and laugh at stupid jokes.
One day, during the MBA, coming home from class, I saw this email from a classmate, “Hey guys, I am in XYZ bar on Chestnut St. Would love to meet up if you want to hangout. Hope to see a lot of you soon!”
In my mind, I went, “No way in hell.”
All I wanted was solitude, not another hangout.
But mind you, I am not saying that others were wrong – networking is indeed really important. Just that I was really bad at it. Often, I found the conversations empty and meaningless, and did not enjoy them.
On all these occasions, I would blame myself, “Why can’t I be like normal people, and enjoy normal things?”
Over time, I have accepted that I am not normal, but in many ways, none of us is. What we call ‘normal’ is the average, but there is no ‘average’ human being.
The average height of two friends who are 5 and 6 feet tall is 5.5 feet, but there is nobody 5.5 feet tall. Average is just a mathematical construct.
We are not average – we are individuals with unique traits pressured into trying to pass off as average.
Over the years, I have learned that while it is useful to fix your weaknesses and come to an acceptable level, what truly matters is being exceptional in what you are good at.
The world is big, and it has space for all of us – with all our defects as well as genius.
It is ok to be abnormal.