Many years ago, I came across a famous quote of Albert Einstein’s that has since stuck in my mind:
My passionate sense of social justice and social responsibility has always contrasted oddly with my pronounced lack of need for direct contact with other human beings and human communities. I am truly a “lone traveler” and have never belonged to my country, my home, my friends, or even my immediate family, with my whole heart; in the face of all these ties, I have never lost a sense of distance and a need for solitude.
From my earliest days to well into my thirties, I often felt achingly lonely, an oddball. Einstein was my childhood idol. It was his life story that inspired me to start down the road of becoming a physicist. His self-description as a “lone traveler” was solace for me. I used to hope that one day I’d grow up to be as special and singular a figure as Einstein. (No lack of ambition there, eh?)
Part of growing up for me is to accept that I am no Einstein (nor even a journeyman physicist for that matter). A side effect of self-acceptance: I no longer feel so lonely. I am really like the people around me. I’m also so blessed to have the love of family and friends who accept me for who I am, in spite of my unrealized ambitions.