Titi Olurin


My sisters share a close bond, one that I envy. Whenever I am around them – which is not often, I feel like a stranger looking on from the outside. They speak as if in codes or parables that I do not understand.

“Wait, what? What did you say?” I would ask in the middle of the conversation, looking from one sister to the other like a lost kitten.

One of them, perhaps the older one, would repeat what she had said earlier. It could be a comment or question on something as random as a TV show or book.

“Oh, okay!” I would respond, nodding and smiling, pretending to understand.

Of course, I do not understand. I do not watch the TV shows they watch and I do not read the kind of books they read. So, all I do is nod as much as I can or smile when I think I have to.

They share jokes that are lost on me, and when they laugh long and hard, hitting each other on their shoulders, I only look on in amazement.

“What? What? Share the joke!” I would say, peeling my eyes off the TV for a moment and shifting excitedly in my seat.

The other sister, would repeat the joke, laughing heartily, but I would only stare blankly, the corner of my mouth not even twitching into a smile.

They speak the same way; I have heard that we all do. With my sisters, though, it goes beyond the voice, intonation or pronunciation. They think the same way, too; the way you would if you were raised in a largely conservative home.

One is my twin sister and the other is my big sister. Yet, it feels like they are the twins, and I am the other sister just hanging on. When I am back home with them, the sisters bond over what you would call “kitchen gist” as they cook or sit idly around the kitchen table. They say that kind of gist is the sweetest, but I have no idea, as I am not there to share in the gist.

I am not sure how it makes me feel. Maybe sad, alone, or dejected. But mostly, I feel like the odd one out.

Is being the odd one out such a bad thing?

“No, it is not a bad thing. You are not a bad person for being the odd one out. The fact that you are a good person could be the reason you are the odd one out. So, no, it isn’t a bad thing,” Adetoun, a Lagos-based nutritionist, insists.

If being the odd one out is not such a bad thing, why does it sound like the worst thing that could happen to someone and why do people feel hurt about it? I’ll admit that I have felt like the odd one out around my sisters for the longest time and it has always made me feel bad. It just hurts to be that one person that is different from her sisters and cannot talk to them the same way they talk to each other.

“I guess you can say that there is a feeling of being left out that comes with being the odd one out. And just because the word “odd” sounds like a bad thing, it makes people think of it as something negative,” the nutritionist explains.

I have also thought about how being the odd one out in a group is not unconnected with odd numbers. If you think about it, you will observe that even numbers can even themselves out while odd numbers cannot. What I mean is, when there are three siblings or friends or roommates, two will be closer, no matter how close all three are. The two will share secrets that they probably will not share with the third. They will connect on a level that they might not connect on with the third. These two leave the third one out without even knowing it.

“I have two best friends. I’ll call them A and B. The three of us hang out almost all the time. When I want to talk about boys or rant about my relationship woes, I know better to call A than to call B. When I want to talk about work and work-related matters, I would much rather call B. But because I tend to talk more about my relationship woes, I am closer to A than B,” Adetoun says, in a sense buttressing my point.

In a group of even numbers – let’s say four, for instance, the situation is different. Each pair can be closer than the other pair without anyone feeling odd or left out. Now, I might be wrong, and it is not always the case, but this is often how it happens. It is the same way it happens in movies, sitcoms and TV shows. In the sitcom, ‘Friends’, you cannot help but notice that while all six are close, Joey and Phoebe are closer than the other four, Monica and Chandler are closer than the other two, and that leaves Ross and Rachel to be the couple – at least, for the most part of the show.

Do you perhaps find yourself in a group where you are the odd one out – whether it is a group of odd or even numbers? Do you feel like the odd one out, not just among friends or siblings, but in a work setting or environment, at gatherings, events, church, or some other space? How does it make you feel? Find honest advice from real people on how to deal with being the odd one out here.

Don’t see it as a bad thing – “Being the odd one out isn’t a bad thing. It just means that you are different, and different is okay.” – Nene. 31.   

It might actually be a good thing – “What if you are the odd one out because you are the one who does not gossip, the one who minds her business, the one who works the hardest? Tsk! Don’t sweat it, child. That is a good thing. Keep at it.” – Chioma. 36.

Stop trying to fit in – “Well, because you cannot; that’s why you should not even try. If you could fit in, you would have without even trying.” – Omotoke. 24.

Don’t let your uniqueness scare you – “You have your idiosyncrasies, just as everybody has theirs. But don’t let this scare you. You cannot fit into every group you find yourself in.”  – OJ. 33.

You might not be the odd one out – “It is probably just all in your head. You’re imagining or overthinking things. Either way, do you and you’re good.”  – Kolade. 44.




Titilayo Olurin is a writer whose stories and articles have been published on various online platforms. A love junkie, as she often describes herself, she is on radio every week talking about relationships, dating and family. She spends most of her time curating and creating content around these same topics on her Instagram page @toastlinewithteetee. You can connect with her on Instagram and Twitter @titilayo_olurin.