I ran across an article this week about the Abilene Paradox, which admittedly sounds like the title of a Big Bang Theory episode. Apparently it is a social phenomenon in which a group of people come to a decision that none of them wants. The back story is that four people decide to go to dinner in Abilene and have a terrible time only to find out later that none of them actually wanted to go.
The author stated that this would never happen in Israel because everyone is so vocal about their opinion and that this sounded like a phenomenon “in a society of very polite gentiles.”
The point of the article was not a comment on society, but rather how to encourage teens to follow their own hearts and not bow to peer pressure.
In that moment, I was transported to my childhood – I grew up in a small town in the US, in those days “a society of very polite gentiles.”
My best friend – a Mormon, who was probably my best friend because there were no other kids our age in the neighborhood – told me that she was worried about me. Apparently she had spoken to her mother about my weird behaviors: walking out of music class when it was time for Christmas carols, skipping the Christmas pageant, being altogether different.
Her mother’s sage advice, which my friend shared with me, was: “If she wants to stick out like a sore thumb, then let her.”
Me? A sore thumb?
Listen, without being too full of myself, I was adorable and everyone liked me. Even if they thought my immortal soul was going straight to hell because I was Jewish, they wholeheartedly prayed for me and hoped that I would see the light because it would be such a shame for a sweetie like me to rot in hell for eternity. But a sore thumb? I don’t think so.
It was one of those transformative moments in life that you only recognize in retrospect. I could have been sad that I was a sore anything and was different. But the truth is that your hand functions best with a thumb, sore or not. And if I’m going to be a thumb, then by golly, I’m going to be a great one!
So with all due respect to Abilene, I’m not going. But if you want to go, I’m not going to stop you.
Even stock photos agree: Thumbs are Awesome!