Monday, January 9, 2012

Feeling Like an Outsider (Again)

Do you ever feel like you don't belong? Does it seem like you're always on the fringe of fitting in but never quite part of the group? Do you ever think that there's no one out there who really wants to be around you?
I do.
A lot lately.
And it stinks.
I went from feeling like I was a real part of a group, as if I finally "fit in" somewhere, to feeling as if it was all just an illusion (or maybe delusion?)
I know part of this is my fault. I had been arrogant in thinking that I had been completely healed of social anxiety disorder. I should have realized that the ability to push myself so far out of my comfort zone was a temporary blessing that was needed while I served in such a visible role. Unfortunately, as soon as I was given a new challenge all of my energy went to overcoming that and I no longer made as much of an effort to reach out to others. It doesn't help that the one place I always counted on to be around the people I know (church) is now a place where I have so little interaction with any of the adults that it adds to the feeling of isolation. Don't get me wrong- I love being with the children, but I miss having the built-in opportunity to visit with friends and meet new people. It's almost impossible to get to know someone in the 10 minutes before church starts- and after that all of my time is spent with the children.
I still try toget together with some of the people I think might like me. But there have been many invitations made for game nights, and 99% were turned down. We no longer have "friends" coming over to spend an evening with us. (With the exception of the Smiths. I don't want to dismiss their much needed and appreciated friendship.)
This leaves me wondering if it's me. I know I suck as a friend. I'm not very outgoing or lively. I don't want/need constant contact so I don't want to talk on the phone every day or hang out for hours on end a couple times a week. (This doesn't mean that I don't want any contact though. I enjoy conversations with friends and getting together to do things or just to visit.) I don't do scrapbooking or crafts, and I feel awkward going to playgroup when I have no young children and don't really relate to the life stage that the other ladies are at. I just don't fit in. Which is okay if you still feel accepted and wanted. But I don't any more.
What makes it worse is that I hate whining. I hate feeling sorry for myself. So most days I just try to stay busy and not think about it. Other times, I make the effort to try to reach out again.
Unfortunately, no matter how much I hate feeling sorry for myself, those feelings are real. I can't pretend that I'm not hurt when I hear about other people being invited over for games, celebrations, dinners, etc. and no one ever invites my family. (*Note: Not to be rude, but please don't suddenly invite us over because you feel sorry for us or because you think you should be charitable. If you didn't want us over before, don't invite us now.)
I know that I need to make the effort to reach out to others again. One of our family goals is to have game nights on a regular basis again. I want to get better at being social. I'll go to every activity offered and push myself to keep trying. Maybe this year will have miraculous results and we'll find a core group of friends who want to get together with us. Or maybe we'll continue living on the fringes. Either way, I've got to do my part to try.

If anyone has ever wanted to join us for a game night but hasn't been able to- let me know. Or if you've come over before but haven't made it back again and would like to- let me know. I'd be happy to have the company. And if you're not interested in being my friend but can relate to how I feel- at least we know we're not alone.


Leslie said...

Aw, Patty! I love ya! I wish we still lived there and could participate in a game night with you! You are an amazing person, and I feel privileged to call you my friend! I wish I could hug you right now.
Primary is a wonderful place to serve, but, yes, it does tend to isolate you church-wise.

David said...

you are the main attraction in my group, and life for that matter.

Mama D said...

Part of your problem is that some of your friends who would LOVE to get together for game nights and such things up and *moved* - ah, the gall of them! It's not you, it's life. :/

For what it's worth, I miss our talks. We never solved any major problems, but just knowing that someone cared enough to listen and not judge made the difference for me when it would have been easy to spiral into depression.

Hope your effort to try your best pays dividends this year. You are an amazing friend.

Mama D said...

PS: There are people who don't know what they're missing... Try to feel sorry for them, rather than yourself. :)

Louann and Bari said... David's comment (psst, I won't tell your husband!). We still want to get together for game night. I just have to put away the whip, and let Bari out of the basement office sometimes...

And, if it weren't for you, I would not have any real friends at church.... And yes, I try very hard to not be angry or depressed that we (also) are not invited to get togethers. Such is life. Every ward I have ever attended had 'clicks', we are not a perfect church, but sometimes it gets tiresome to be on the outside looking in. Just sayin'

You however, I am proud to call my friend. Forever and always. And the pleasure is all mine.

Papa D said...

It's not you. Period. Full stop.

The solution is simple:

Drive to Canton, MO once in a while for a game night.

See, wasn't that easy? :-)

As for your current calling and the difference between it and your more visible one, it's really important, I think, to realize and acknowledge that you did a fantastic job in that one and that you are doing your best in this one. In many ways, this one is even more important than the other one, although it absolutely doesn't provide the validation the other one did.

It's not selfish to admit that validation can be important, but it is important to admit it. You don't have the validation you used to have, but you do have the opportunity to help others feel the validation you felt - and those others, the little ones who are so precious to Him, need it just as badly as you did.

I know you know that, and I don't know why it hit me to share that, but it did - so I did.

Love you, friend - although not as much as that David guy who commented, apparently.

heather said...

I am so sorry you feel this way right now. I think you should come give playgroup a try..some weeks it is the only contact I have with others and it helps immensely. The conversation really feels more like book group (you know the 85% of the time we are off topic from the actual book :) than nursery school. Plus I would love to hear some advice on teenagers sometime :) I love your insight on things and your wisdom. Soooo I hope you consider it. I know it won't necessarily resolve all these feelings but I really think it would be fun and worth a try. Not everyone brings kids and even some husbands come too sometimes. It's at my house next week!!

Shayleen Lunt said...

Love you Patty! I miss Primary (where I did get to see you for a few minutes each week) and you as my visiting teacher! And Ward Council meetings where we could occasionally roll our eyes together ;) shhhh...I didn't just say that :)

AJ said...

Hey Patty, I just now read this and I want to let you know that I know EXACTLY how you feel. I was there not too long ago. Schuyler and I really enjoyed game night, and we definitly would love to come again. HINT, HINT.
I am going to miss seeing you every week and I am really going to miss being your visiting teacher. I have a hard time showing my true feelings, but I want you to know that I have always felt a deep kinship with you and I hope that will always stay the same. I can't wait to see you and everyone else at book group! Book group truly is something I can't wait for each month and I am so happy you all still will have me. I hope all is well and I will see you on the

Jennifer Andersen said...

I appreciate you! I love game night! I live in Joplin. Darn it. I feel the same way you do lots of times. Maybe that's why we get along so well. :) Just wanted you to know that someone out in Joplin thinks of you often and wishes we lived closer. (I'm also comforted to know I'm not the only one who feels that way sometimes.)