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Those who stand alone stand out

I am the first ever experimental partygoer. I create a hypothesis and test it out in an environment that displays the polar extremes of people; both the best and the worst are always seen.

The first task was to remain in a single location for the whole party. This was a stunning success. I stood for hours and observed people. I became a fixture; I became common; I became someone everyone knew. There is great power in simple recognition.

For the first hour, I stood on my own, no one talking to me. This was the period when no one strayed from their groups; let's call it sobriety. I had space around me; no one came too close. I was the odd one.

It is interesting to note the need people have to remain in their comfort zone. Everyone mingles, but they remain talking to people they know. I make eye contact with people, but they look away or walk right by instead of taking a moment to talk.

As the evening went on, people finally had the chance to accuse me of staying in my comfort zone. This is a laughable accusation, as I was the only one who was truly on my own, truly in a constant state of discomfort. Those who purposefully choose to be alone or remain still in a state of constant people and action are the ones considered comfortable. We are not supposed to be alone when surrounded by people. We are not supposed to be an anchor when everyone else is moving.

Slowly, people began talking to me. People who I had made eye contact with approached me and would strike up a conversation with me on the simple fact that we had made eye contact. The effects of the alcohol were beginning to be noticeable. People were bumping into me; people were talking to me; people were choosing to turn me into a point of attention as opposed to an oddity.

As soon as it began, it ended. I left and the space left from my absence was immediately filled. It was as if I was never there.

I tend to believe I affected people's evenings whether they spoke to me or not for the simple fact that I was constant. It was uncomfortable for some, but most remained apathetic towards the situation. Yet even they were affected by my presence.

There was one comment in particular that has embedded itself into my mind: Someone stated they could not be alone. I never had the chance to latch on to anyone and have a conversation, but I should have made an exception for this individual. I should have sat down and heard their story.

Everyone has at least one story to tell. No one asked for my story, but I wanted to tell everyone. We are all caught up in ourselves too much to admit our inability to talk to people, to hear their stories. We wallow in our zones of comfort and accuse others of never leaving theirs while ignoring our own habits. Some of us want to speak, but can never find someone to listen. All some of us can ask for is a new ear to hear our story.

I am always waiting to listen. I stand like a fixture at a party waiting for the single individual who has something worthwhile to say.

I have found my next experiment: to seek out the individual who desperately wants to speak, but can never find the words, among a sea of people hiding behind their comfort.

Norman can be reached by e-mail at

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