I can’t pinpoint when it started, but for much of my life I’ve felt like an outsider looking in. It could be that I’m a middle child who’s constantly trying to reach or surpass my older sister’s accomplishments while trying to remain grounded and relatable to my younger sister.
I’m not sure how to describe it, but I assign roles to the people I meet. Oh, she’s outgoing and confident and talented to boot. She’s the main character. He’s so charismatic. He’s handsome, charming, and smart. He’s the one that matters. I’m awkward, shy, and selfish, but I’ve had a few good moments. I guess I’m a minor character, and I’m here to help her on her path to success if she were ever to look to me for it. I guess I’m expendable too, since the story will go on without me.
Sometimes I feel as if I’ve never had a “best” friend, the one that you’ve grown up with and if they had to choose, whose first choice if they chose someone to spend time with was you. I can name many people who I consider close friends, but I’ve always had the idea that I wouldn’t be their first choice to hang out with. They’re the best friends, and the main characters. I’m the okay friend with both of them, but not the one that will be called at 4 am because they need someone to talk to or just laze around with.
Having this perspective helps me empathize and view the larger picture by detaching myself from the center of my world and how I experience it, but it traps me as well. There are times when I feel a burst of passion to become a leader and someone who’s “important,” but once I get that chance I fumble because I feel I don’t deserve it. I’ll ask myself, “What are you doing? You’ll just mess this up so you should go back where you belong.” I don’t like to talk unless I have something that I know will contribute something to the conversation other than background noise because if they don’t think it’s important then I just wasted their time. Sometimes I think my voice sounds funny because I haven’t used it in conversation in so long. I play situations over and over until my head hurts, and I try to deflect conversation from me as often as possible. When I don’t and indulge myself by actually telling someone how I’m doing, I feel guilty as heck and hope that I didn’t bother them by trying to be the center of attention for the moment. So when you ask me how I’m doing, I’m going to be fine. And I’ll smile.
I can distance myself to eventually understand everyone’s story, but I don’t know if even I have my own yet. College has been a time of revelation in many areas of my life, so I guess I’ll see where it goes from here.