>Lets take a straw poll, how many people in the group
>were "outsiders" as children, e.g. played mostly alone,
>had only a few friends, or were generally rejected by
>the social cliques that educational system produces?
Actually, I was the life of the party as a kid, to the point that I transcended it. I was literally the most popular kid in my class in most of elementary and high school, voted "class king" in high school, etc., etc. When it goes that well but you're also raised to be super-critical, then at some point you begin to see how thin the facade is. I could see that with all I had going for me, there was no limit socially, but I didn't want it, because the one thing I was starving for was the truth.
I consciously rejected social success and made a conscious, explicit decision to be an outsider. I figured that the only way to see the truth was to put yourself in a position that appeared - or really was - vulnerable to attack. Then you find out who the real good people are. (Also the real bad ones.)
I had the advantage of being caught up early on in multiple levels of social/psychological conflict as a displaced yankee kid in the deep South. I literally had to fight every single day in first grade against little rebels out to defend the honor of the South, and as I was finally accepted because I didn't quit and I started winning all the fights, and then excelled at virtually everything I tried, I never forgot that year, or all the levels of hypocrisy and prejudice pervading that milleau, and I've always watched other people since then to see how they behave toward other people who are weak and vulnerable, because it's only when they're free to act without apparent personal consequences that you see their real preferences.