I remember when I realised I was an outsider. I can’t have been more than 5 or 6. I was exploring, and I walked into a clearing, and I could see children my age playing a little way off. I had never met anyone my age before. I ran to join in with their game, but when I was about 10 metres away from the other kids I collided with something. Something hard, cold and vitreous. I returned to my family and learned I had run into The Barrier.
The peculiar part was that the other children made no sign of noticing me. They continued their game oblivious to the child in pain just metres away from them. We were demarcated in such a way that they could not sense our existence, but we got an unrestricted view of theirs.
It wasn’t so bad back then, being…
Every time I succumbed to the temptation to give up I would spend days doing nothing but lying disconsolate in the shelter, staring at the ceiling, taking the occasional drink of water, until the next futile scheme enticed me back outside, back to the interminable plight. Each time I returned my obsession mounted, my efforts doubled.
I remember when I realised it was in vain. I was 19 years old. I was it the midst of an attempt to pierce The Barrier, and I broke my hammer, and there was no one there to see. I began to pound the meaningless boundary with my fists, with my knees, with my face. Every time my flesh made contact with unyielding Barrier my sense of purpose dwindled and my agony escalated, until pain and emotion forced me to the ground, where I lay, weeping, for hours.
I remember when I realised it didn’t matter. I was 19 years old. I was lying on the ground, filled with ineluctable ennui; I understood that not only was becoming an insider impossible, it was pointless. Outsiders have the opportunity to observe. We see the seemingly perfect lives insiders lead. We also see the social norms that, like chains, bind them.
I now recognise that it is better to be outside and unbridled, than inside and obsequious to…