We’re taught very early on in life that ‘fitting in’ is a key strategy for making our way in the world. No one explicitly tells us this, but it quickly becomes central to how we make our way in the classroom.

Apply yourself: you’re the teacher’s pet.

Excel: you’re a nerd.

Can’t keep up: you’re slow, dumb, and a waste of space.

To stay off the radar you need to find that sweet spot in the middle. Do enough to stay well clear of the bottom, but not so much that you hit the spotlight at the top.This social conditioning - whether it was ever intended or not - suits the system beautifully. It wants to ferry you right down the middle because that’s the most efficient use of everyone’s time. If you’re too slow, you’ll need help keeping up. If you’re too fast, you’ll need someone out in front with you giving extra directions. That’s too much resource attached to not enough outcome.

A mass production system is built to produce mass results, and that’s just not possible if you spend too much time fussing around with one of the products on the line. You need to get it back on the conveyor and everything moving uniformly again. Whether we like it or not, whether we want to accept it or not, this is the way the system works best.

Millions of children, from many generations now, have been unable to achieve that middle ground. They pushed too far ahead and suffered socially for it, or fell too far behind and had to endure that embarrassment. And for those who felt it most acutely, it might have taken decades to finally rediscover a belief in who they really are this world. If they ever did.

For every child this morning who put a shield around their heart, mind and spirit as they walked out their front door...for every child who believes they need to change their shape just to fit in and get through the day...

We see you, and we need to do better for you.

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