I've spent a lot of my life on the outside looking in. This has been especially true in my career choices, which of course has affected my economic standing as well. There have been other mitigating factors that have precluded my participating in the mainstream, including health etc. but as they are not relevant to this discussion, I'll leave them aside.
Being on the outside does two things. One, it gives you the opportunity to be an observer of trends and behaviours that wouldn't be noticed by an active participant. If I'm to be completely honest, I have to admit that the other thing that happens is that you develop an attitude that affects your objectivity when it comes to passing judgement on those trends and behaviours.
In order to justify your "outsider" status, there is a tendency to elevate yourself into a position of superiority to those you deem as active participants in what you're observing. This of course will play havoc with your objectivity as you're constantly seeking to find fault in order to boost your own ego and to cover up any desire that you have for general acceptance.
In spite of the above corollary, there are certain observations that are true, and raise certain questions about the nature of mainstream society. If you never had any desire to be on the outside looking in, but your inclinations were such that you ended up in that position what does that say about society?
I'm not talking about abhorrent behaviours like rape or murder, or even anything criminal that would immediately separate you from the norm. I'm not even talking about sexual orientation or matters pertaining to race, creed, culture, or religion that could cause a distinction to be made.
What I'm addressing here is the way in which intelligence and artistic aspirations are looked upon. From our earliest days in the schoolyard at primary levels, intelligence was looked down upon by our contemporaries, and used as an excuse for being ostracized. Who didn't dread being singled out for praise by their teacher in front of the rest of the class, knowing what sort of teasing would be the result?
The overt teasing vanished once you hit the higher grades of secondary school, but by then your "difference" was established and you were shunted aside from the mainstream of school life. Never to the extremes as depicted by Hollywood in their teen movies, but the position was still very real.
There was nothing wrong with getting decent, or even good grades, which was considered a status thing. The problem was in having individuality of thought, or formulating your own ideas. It usually came down to a choice of learning to keep your thoughts to yourself and fitting in, or developing a caustic attitude towards the mainstream, and finding your own way in the world.