top of page

The Ugly Duckling on Robinson Crusoe Island

(Image courtesy of Shutterstock)

In Hans Christian Anderson’s fable, The Ugly Duckling, after becoming a swan, the ducks want to be a part of the ugly duckling's success story. The ducklings experience hindsight bias, for they always knew the ugly duckling was the swan. But I doubted they asked how the ugly duckling would feel about this revisionist history. Revisionist history is when people imagine historical events rather than document how they happened. How much success is attributed to the individual when a person matures and becomes successful? Did the other animals contribute to how the ugly duckling eventually became a swan?

(Image is in the public domain. The image depicts Vilhelm Pedersen's illustration for "Ugly Duckling")

I noticed that most people in their mid-twenties are in one of two camps. The first camp is known as Camp Commitment. Camp Commitment is where people in relationships, stable employment, and decent credit scores live together in an always beehive-like existence. They meticulously follow the ethos of the Boomers as they live to work.

(Image courtesy of Shutterstock. The image depicts Beehives with bees on a flowered village field bees in flight.)

The second camp is Camp Confusion. This post-apocalyptic-like scene is where people try to define themselves and their goals, aimlessly trying to build connections and start relationships. In Camp Confusion, unemployment transforms into Funemployment as you emulate the 1960s counterculture while living in your childhood bedroom.

(Gif courtesy of wix.)

Both groups envy the other. Camp Commitment envies Camp Confusion’s unyielding optimism, courage to break from societal norms, and ultimate freedom. Camp Confusion prays that someone would take a chance on them in both a professional and personal capacity. Camp Confusion yearns for autonomy from everyone but secretly buries the deep desire to be wanted. Yet, what happens if you are not a part of either group?

(The image is in the public domain. The image depicts the Frontispiece of the 1st edition of Robinson Crusoe by Daniel Defoe from 1719. The artist who created the image is unknown, but the engravers are "Clark & Pine," e.g. John Clark and John Pine.)

Daniel Defoe’s Robinson Crusoe was based on a real person Alexander Selkirk. For four years, Selkirk was marooned on Más a Tierra (now known as Robinson Crusoe Island, Chile). Selkirk created a self-sufficient lifestyle with the island's resources. He herded goats, tamed cats, built huts, and caught fish. But he desperately wanted human connection. After four years of isolation, an English galley found him, and Selkirk returned to civilization.

(The image depicts an illustration of Alexander Selkirk frolicking with goats on the island where he was marooned—photograph by Mary Evans Picture Library, Alamy. The image was found

The third group is Camp Más a Tierra. These people create opportunities for themselves using the currently available resources. They are utterly alone and have their ambitions and goals fueling their motivation. Many people at first hate being stranded in this group. But how can you realize you’re a swan when surrounded by other people’s inputs and opinions? You are not a pet project, charity case, or science experiment. You can evolve past being whatever ugly duckling society or peers thought you were or are. When the other animals try to take credit for your growth on Camp Màs a Tierra, remember that sometimes being away from the noise allows you to create a foundation for success.

(The island of Más a Tierra. In 1966, Chile renamed the island Robinson Crusoe Island. Photograph by George F. Mobley, Nat Geo Image Collection. The image was found on


Me on my first day of graduate school

Rachel Huss

Thank you so much for stopping by and reading my blog! Please reach out if you have any ideas for content, partnerships, and more!

Let the posts
come to you.

  • Facebook
  • Instagram
  • Twitter
  • Pinterest
bottom of page