We’ve all been there. When you’re invited to some reunion or party and think about it excitedly for days, only for the day to come and be disappointed by the outcome.
More often than not, I end up feeling left out when I’m hanging with a bunch of people. Naturally as a shy introvert, I feel much more comfortable interacting in one-on-one conversations or even small groups. But when there’s a crowd, I kind of just drift away into the background.
I try to start and join conversations, of course; but they often end up being meaningless chatter or gossip that I’m simply not interested in. That’s what I like to make myself believe. Oftentimes, however, I feel that my inability to interact comfortably with my friendly acquaintances is the actually inhibitor in these events.
For most of high school, I felt like I needed to be a part of these social ‘groups’ and be one of those people that manage school and social life evenly. But as much as I tried, it always felt off. I almost never enjoyed myself at the parties, and often felt like I could have spent a much better time doing my own things at home. It wasn’t until senior year that I realized where this ‘need’ came from: I wasn’t trying to fit in because I wanted to be a sociable person; I wanted to fit in because of FOMO. I didn’t want to be that girl who never shows up at events, who misses out on that awesome thing that happened last night, who doesn’t get invited to events. But I wasn’t that girl.
The group of people in front of her was jovial and paid her no attention. The group behind was much the same. She was alone without being alone.
I believe that our social lives are essential in our emotional and overall wellbeing. It’s important. But we all deal with it differently. In my case, I don’t need nor want to hang around so many people I’m not close with. As of right now, I have two people whom I can call my best friends. I don’t see neither very often (actually, I haven’t seen one of them since 2012 when she moved to another country), but I invest as much as I can into maintaining our friendship. They keep me happy and socially busy, and that’s more than enough.
As of my other friends (or friendly acquaintances), I see them every once in a while in these reunions/parties. We graduated from school a year ago, so the only times that I get to see them are in these events. And it’s great, because it gives us the needed time to catch up with each other. But I don’t try to hang out with them more than that because, to me, it’s pointless. I would go back to being the person I used to be: a girl struggling to fit in with a social crowd that she doesn’t highly enjoy being with.
Ultimately, the most important thing is that you know what you want; if you can do that, then the temptations of peer pressure will not be enough to lure you in. You will do as you believe is best for you, and nothing less than that. Obviously, it’s not as simple as it sounds, and I imagine I will continue struggling with this issue once I’m in college and/or other groups, but at least I have made a first step in recognizing my behavior within the school environment.
We’ve all been alone in a crowd. But we don’t have to be anymore.