I missed two days of writing, and I felt it. My insides are getting churned up. But at the same time, I sit down and I’m not quite sure what to write. So this one is probably going to be all over the place.
I caught a glimpse of myself this morning, and thought that I appeared to be a woman–noteworthy only because I look so young for my age (and often feel younger than I am), that I’ve been mistaken as being 7 years younger than I am. Well, that lead to thinking of all that has happened in the last seven years, and what I’ve learned, and how I’ve changed, and how it feels like it has been an exceedingly long seven years that would just never end.
But then this afternoon, I caught a glimpse of myself again, reflected in glass windows, and all I could think about was what an unattractive individual I was. This is so common it’s almost cliche, but it bugged me a lot because I’d spent a good part of the afternoon getting distracted by how beautiful so many of my classmates were, each in their own way. That’s probably also cliche, but that’s okay; it’s the truth.
Eventually I came around to realizing that really all I know is that I’m unattractive to me. And being attracted to oneself is generally called narcissism, and is greatly frowned upon. So, you know, it’s not all bad.
But it’s just that I realized the first reaction to feeling unattractive is to try to figure out how to “fix” it. Like before I’ll have any worth, I have to run around fixing things and improving things and making things better, and then . . .then I’ll be ready. For stuff. Things. Life. As though life would be somehow inherently better if only I were better.
And that’s the sad thing. That we sometimes feel like we have to “fix” ourselves before we can start enjoying or participating in life, and that until then, we’re sub-par. And my brain knows that’s not true. But I didn’t feel great leaving campus anyhow. With all of those thoughts running through my head about being invisible, being an object of derision, one more statistic. I don’t really feel like changing–I know who I am, and I am being me. But feeling bummed that who I am is someone people take note of.
I know this is stupid. Hormones, probably, even. Just today when my teacher was checking to see if I had to drop out of her class for health reasons, she got all excited when she found out I could stay, and went on and on about how I ask good questions, etc. And so she notices, right? But it’s different. It’s not someone liking you, the real you. Immediately I thought of all the friends who’ve bailed me out and taken care of me over the last semester. But they weren’t anyone from school.
Maybe that’s part of it. That I’ve never really felt comfortable with any of my classmates, always trying to win their friendship instead of falling into that easy friendship that you don’t have to try for. The friendships that I thought were made on campus have been greatly strained over the last semester, and I don’t think those friendships were what I had hoped they were. Two years, and they still feel awkward and complicated and polite on a certain level. And I watch my classmates, and most of them look like they belong here, that the campus is their natural habitat. And they interact easily with each other.
And this is not the first time I’ve felt myself standing on the outside looking in. I’ve done it many times; and you’d think the smarting would wear off. Instead it takes on a mocking tone: yes, still. Always. It’s you, of course, so you’ll always be standing outside and looking in.
And it always makes me wonder what’s wrong with me that I can’t seem to enter circles. “Everyone” else can, why not me? I used to wonder if it was my upbringing. Or perhaps there was something “wrong” with me, like an autism-spectrum type of malfunctioning. I’m beginning to suspect that I’m just different, for all the good and the bad that implies. One of my brothers used to complain he hated being fake to make people like him. I indignantly replied that I wasn’t being fake with people, and he allowed I was just more of a people person than him.
I’m finally starting to see what he was saying. I mean, I can chat people up. I can be friendly in the grocery store. But being “friendly” doesn’t help me out over the two-year long haul, and I can’t fake that I like sitting outside looking at our phones together or talking endlessly about someone’s pet cat and I can’t pretend I like drinking or short haircuts or yoga or trashy attitudes. I can’t squeal over instagram posts, or swear about job situations.
So I’m on the outside looking in because, really, I don’t want to go in. Sometimes I find people who are also on the outside, and sometimes we become fast friends in a way that makes me wonder how two people can just know with the most minor interaction that they’ll stick together. But that’s rare, and for the most part, that’s ok. I can’t handle too many people–I’m a small groups or one-on-one kinda person.
But other times, I look around, and it seems like everyone else has got theirs. Their friends, their significant others, their multiple social circles. And I just feel like, hey–what about me? Why doesn’t anyone want me?
They do. It’s not like I’m totally alone. But I am the stranger on the outside looking in. The polite stranger. The cheerful stranger. The people-person stranger.
I could spin it that it was the price to pay for being independent and unique and brilliant. Maybe, in some shade, some of that is true. I do think it’s not a sign of something be “wrong” with me any more, even when sometimes it feels that way.
But I guess I’ve spent a certain amount of time, wishing people or someone would “discover” me. When you realize mostly that no one is looking for you because you aren’t something they want, it kinda smarts. But having hashed it all out, I almost begin to think that it’s more like I belong to some kind of secret society, and that we recognize each other when we find each other. And there’s not very many of us, but we do have something that others don’t. What? Je na sais pas. One has to assume there are many of these secret societies out there, each with their own “thing.”
Why should this be a comforting thought? I suppose because it is a thought of “belonging” and it is the sense of “not belonging” that weighs me down. It is not so very much that there is a certain individual I wish would notice me or a clique I want to join. It’s the sense of feeling alienated and isolated that I just stew in all day at school that wears me out. Two years with the same group of people, and still on the outside of it. It’s not going to change in these final five weeks.
The fearful thing, of course, is that it will never change. And since it’s a secret society, you can’t look up the membership list, so you never know how long it will be between chance meetings that lead to real friendship. I go through a rather lot, I think.
I don’t want a people that I belong to; I want people that belong to me. I doubt very much that phrase makes sense to anyone other than me, but it does make sense to me.