As much as I think that all humans are the same, that we have a similar way of life, similar thoughts, wants, needs there are many stages in life that a person experiences isolation from another or a group. Most of the thoughts that run through my mind are those that I have seen in the Indian society - being conservative within but putting on a very modern outlook.
This is all in my opinion and may not be entirely correct for the reader in you.
Making a person feel different is one thing and completely keeping a person isolated is another. My mind is a bit confused about what is worse and I have entangled thoughts about both.
Schools are one of the first places where one can experiencee the divide generally categorising students as the brilliant, the average and the dumb. The worst one is perhaps being 'above average'...You are not expected to do anything great, on the other hand you are not dropped out of activities as you're neither bad not good, its like constantly playing a second to someone who's better.Ain't a great place to be.
On a personal level, the worst I saw about grading and grouping people was with sports. The school never encouraged everyone to play any sport. They picked the ones with the talent and those who were guaranteed to bring them laurels. The rest of the lot never got a chance. I came over that and stopped expecting that I would be picked for any sport what so ever. I immersed myself in sport which did not need a team. My personality took a beating on the other hand.
Then there is the time about what course you pick for your university. The very intelligent pick science, the next best pick commerce and the rest of the lot pick arts or other courses. There was a clear discrimination of who's what just by what they chose to study. No wonder most parents only want their children to be doctors or engineers.
Landing with a job was the next big thing in the rat race. Did you get a job? Was it in campus or not? Are you still looking? Oh! Did you decide to do further studies just coz you didn't end up with a job? This was the shameful divide one had to live with.
Then its the step about getting married...those who do at the right age that the soceity perceives are good. The rest have to bear the brunt of not being pretty enough or intelligent enough,not having a good enough salary or even worse assumptions about something being wrong with them. Perhaps, the worst form of alienation an individual can go through.
There are perhaps a zillion other life events which follow....people who never marry, those who have broken marriages, those who choose to marry someone outside their caste, those who live away from their parents, those who leave the country, those who quit their job at the peak of their career to start their own...I don't want to put the entire list as its embarrassing....basically there's a straight line drawn about what life's events should be and any slight deviation from it is frowned upon, talked about and not entirely accepted.
I'd love to see this change and who knows...there might already be one now. I had to put this down as in the years of my upbringing I have seen this around me in one way or the other and detested it all along.
I hope we all understand that each of us is different and have had our own paths that no one else would have known of. Making one feel alienated is perhaps the worst way of killing the light within an individual.