I had begun a post lamenting the fact that I don’t have a group of friends and asking myself why that is, but I think I may have just figured it out.
First of all, I feel the need to clarify that I’m not saying I have no friends. The problem is that I have individual friends who have their own groups of friends that I can’t seem to fit into, either because I’m never invited to join the group or because on the rare occasions that I am, I don’t seem to fit in.
I think it’s because I cannot break myself out of the “sole-homeschooler-starting-10th-grade-with-a-bunch-of-people-who-already-know-each-other” mindset. I was homeschooled all the way through my freshman year of high school because the charter school that my parents wanted me to attend had a miles-long wait list, and when I finally was accepted sophomore year, I was literally the only one in my class of 75 people who didn’t have established friendships when the year began. There were people who had only been friends since the year before, but still, everyone knew someone.
It didn’t help at all that because I had only really been around my siblings for the first 15 years of my life (with only rare exceptions), I was painfully socially awkward. There wasn’t a moment that went by when I was not aware of how much cooler everyone else was than me, or at least how much cooler I perceived them to be. So whenever I began to hang out with a group of people, I was very, very self conscious about saying something stupid, or not being funny or witty enough, or not dressing the right way, or not being familiar with the right movies or music or jokes.
I don’t think I’ve ever been able to outgrow that feeling. My automatic reaction to being in a group of people is to assume that I’m the awkward one, and I think being in that frame of mind, in turn, makes me act awkward either by clamming up out of fear of making a fool of myself or by trying way too hard to not be awkward. This happens around every group of people at school during the few times when I’ve been included and it happens around coworkers at my job back at home.
I wish I knew where to even begin getting myself away from that feeling. I’m thankful for my few friends, but I crave community, too. Few things upset me more or more quickly than feeling like I don’t belong or like I’m left out, especially when I’m afraid it’s my own fault.
I feel bad for complaining (I really don’t like portraying myself as a whiner), and I feel guilty for not being able to say “but it’s okay, because I know God is always there for me and that He is all I need.” Rationally, I know that that’s true. But weren’t we made for community? Is it wrong that I still feel alone?