The Power of Alienation

one among or one with?

There are many negatives to alienation. But there is at least one positive that I’ve discovered.


IMG_3668I once gave a presentation on alienation in college. It was just another presentation among many but held significance for me. I alienated each student in class and asked them what alienation meant to them. Most answers were the expected negative attributes. But one fellow surprised me.

“Being alienated motivates me,” he said.

I didn’t expect such an answer but the seed left a big impact on me. As I prepared for my journey to Japan, his words echoed in my head but had no meaning. As I arrived and began living life day to day, it’s shallow roots spread into the deep corners of my psyche.

Alienation can either make or break a person. It can destroy personalities through the loss of group identity. No matter how independent we are, there are groups out there that we identify with, which help define our likes and dislikes. The internet has expanded it to a whole new level.

IMG_3762For some, what they do is their identity. Being a member is comfortable. It is great, but it can become scary once those support groups fall apart.

For others, what they are is their identity. Membership takes a back seat to personal/independent decision making. It is great, but having no support group at all can lead to disaster.

Both sides have been in my life. For most of my life I have been independent, but one day I discovered the joy of support groups and the accompanying camaraderie. It was a revelation for me because I suddenly began to understand more stories. For years television and movies bewildered me; I had no experience so I couldn’t identify. But group identity came at a time when I was leaving. Suddenly, something that I grew to enjoy and love was gone from my life.

I learned that I enjoy people. What was once frustration developed into a motivational challenge. People challenge me and in the process teach me. It makes me happy. Even if I’m alienated or can’t communicate well, I’ve found that I manage to learn something. Being with people that actively challenge my growth as a person is the sort of relationship that I cherish above all others. I only hope that I can reciprocate.

IMG_3789Life has continued. Context has changed. But life goes on heedless of my disapproval. Day in and day out the same patterns flash by. I’ve tried to maintain optimism, which can be difficult at times. Even though I am alienated, I find that it motivates me to become better than I was.

Take those negative emotions and thoughts and find the positive. Use that power to create.


About Matthew J. Durocher

Matthew Durocher is a graduate of Michigan Tech University. He acquired his BA in English along with a minor in Music Composition and a certificate in Writing in Spring 2012. His style is one of passion and musicality. One foot is firmly rooted in tradition while the other slides dangerously close to the clouds.
This entry was posted in Culture Shock, Japan, Narrative, Reflection and tagged , , , , , , . Bookmark the permalink.

4 Responses to The Power of Alienation

  1. Jessica says:

    Alienation… tends to make one introspective, don’t you think? I think there is both good and bad to it, and that it can affect different people differently. I thrive in it, but know others do not feel the same. And yet, like you, I need people, too… Without interactions with others, we grow stale… We need both.

    • Nice observation! Alienation is certainly not a bad thing and introspection is one of those things that I think our world could use a little more of. It seems that some are frightened of it. For me, it’s about balance. People challenge me and then I reflect and learn, keeping the stagnancy away. I hope your day goes well.

  2. annetbell says:

    Lovely thoughts. . . . namest. . . . Anne

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