Grigory Ryzhakov – Russian Writer

How To be Normal When You Are a Misfit. Frances Ha

Prince Myshkin from Dostoevsky’s novel “Idiot” is a renowned misfit character

I’m a misfit. Always been one, always will be. Yet often, when things got too difficult, I would think, “I wish I was normal, like everyone else.”

The thing is there’s no such thing as normal. If I were like everyone else, I wouldn’t have been unique, wouldn’t have been myself and likely would have multiple personalities or no personality at all. A human mockingbird.

One of the pioneers of ’soul science’ Carl Jung noticed that people have fundamental psychological differences that can be classified into groups like extraverts vs introverts. This was a beginning of a field of knowledge called socionics. Notice there is no such a group as normal or weird. The modern socionics operates with sixteen psychological types, you can find out which one is yours by passing a Myers-Briggs test, MBT.

Interestingly, these 16 types have different frequences in the human population. The most common ones –  comprise up to 16%  of human population each, while the rare ones like ENTJ constitute just 1-2% of the population. So, is misfitness potential linked to the personality type? The question to psychologists.

mbti freq

(from Myers, I. B., McCaulley, M. H. Quenk, N. L., & Hammer, A. L. (1998). MBTI manual: A guide to the development and use of the Myers-Briggs Type Indicator. Palo Alto, CA: Consulting Psychologists Press.)

Now, there is a cultural component as well. If you have a unique ethnic and educational background, quite unusual family circumstances – this may increase your chances of being a misfit. A privately educated violin-playing orphan brought up by her nan is more likely to feel out of place with ’regular kids’ at a holiday camp. Now, if he/she is a common type, like sensory introvert,  she’s got more chances to fit into the society than an intuitive extravert like me who is driving you mad. So, the psychological and cultural components either exacerbate or even-out your misfit potential.

Here’s the graph I created to exemply the dodgy function of misfitness. Just a disclosure for the weak-hearted –  this has no mathematical basis, purely an aesthetic bonus. Hey, I’m a misfit, remember? Hehehe.


Okay, now having established a scientific justification/explanation of misfitness, we can move on to the solution. The society expects us to behave ’normal’, with Friday nights being an exception. How can we be normal as misfits. Pretend? Conform? Exorcise our weirdness and sell it on eBay?

I believe all we need to do is to accept ourselves and our differences with other people, normal or weird. Treat yourself and others with respect. As a species, a bunch of small populations, tribes, human kind has developed a variety of different personalities, so people could have distinct roles, contribute to the species well-being using specific skills and traits.

We need some misfits to show us a different world, a different perspective. So we don’t get too bored.

Some people don’t even know to what extent they are misfits, they are blissfully ingorant. In the new Noah Baumbach’s film Frances Ha starring Greta Gerwig, the main heroine is a weirdo. One of the characters says that Frances looks older than her age, though she behaves like someone younger than her age.

Frances is a modern dancer, living a bohemian lifestyle in New York with her best friend Sophie, an editor at Random House. When Frances splits up with her partner after disagreeing to move in with him, Sophie coincidentally moves out of their shared flat to live with her boyfriend. Frances faces a series of professial, financial and personal challenges, all arising for one reason – Frances feels lost and incomplete without Sophie, her soul mate. Frances has to learn how to be self-reliant and bring her life back on track. How does she grow up? By being pro-active. She takes a boring day job and does her creative things after work, eventually life smiles back at her because Frances is in control of her destiny. She remained herself and evolved.

Being a misfit can be such a normal thing.


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