I always end up feeling a little bit on the outside. It's nobody's fault but my own. I don't do well in large groups. I used to be the one who just sat in the corner. I'm better now, I can talk to people and partake in group activities, but I invariably keep everyone a little bit at arm's length. Not that I don't share or discuss, I'm quite open most of the time, just that I keep me, the person I am on the inside, the quirks of my personality, a little bit on the inside. So I keep my distance, emotionally, to everyone but maybe one or two people whom I end up clinging to for dear life. And I always find myself disappointed when it turns out that I'm not as important to them as they are to me, because they have other people in the group, while I don't.
Thing is, it always feels, at first, like I've come into a group that's perfect and lovely and where I get along with everyone and everyone's so nice to me and we all love each other. Which is true, as far as it goes. But then some people get to know each other better, and they break off into smaller groups that sometimes overlap, and I just... don't. I stay mostly on the outside, and occasionally I grab hold of a person in one of the groups and drag them out to play with me for a bit, before they wander back into their pack again and I end up wondering, what did I do wrong? Why aren't I part of a pack? When did these groups form, and where was I?
Then the bad thoughts come. Maybe they just don't want me to be part of their packs? Maybe they were just pretending, and I don't really belong here and when they're nice to me they're just being, well, nice? Nobody really likes me, they all just pretend so they won't hurt my feelings, and when I leave a room they're happy I'm gone because I was so annoying.
I wonder what they say about me when I'm not there. I wonder if they say anything at all.
Then I become sad and depressed, I spend more time away from the groups, more time inside myself, digging a hole, trying to figure out where I went wrong, thinking there must be something terribly wrong with me that makes it so people don't like me, even though, rationally, I already know, the answer's right in front of me, clear as day.
I should have been there more.
But I'm an introvert. That's not the same as shy. I used to be shy. I'm not really shy anymore. Maybe sometimes, a bit, in the beginning, but I get over it quickly. I don't feel anxious about being in the same room with other people, or about getting to know new people or talking to them or anything. In fact, give me a glass of wine and some good background music and nobody would believe I was ever crippled by social anxiety.
I'm just an introvert. Which means that when I've spent some time with people I feel really tired and exhausted and want to be somewhere else for a while. I prefer smaller groups, conversation to raucous partying, nights in with a few friends to nights out with lots of them. So, I leave early. I go home, make a cup of tea, watch a movie or do some reading or writing or play the guitar for a bit. On-my-own activities. I even like it when Magpie works night shifts sometimes, because it means that I can have some just-me time where I don't have to pay too much attention to the needs of anyone else. I'm also very empathetic, so being near other people can be very exhausting because I constantly have to care so much. It's in my nature.
And that's why I never belong. Because I'm there for a bit and then I sign off, and when I get back things have changed, people have formed packs, groups, clans, families and I'm left wanting to be a part of them with no way inside.
I want to belong. I just don't know how...