Normally, I spend a good portion of my time sad that I can't be more social. I spend time wondering what's wrong with me and why people don't ask me to do things. This week, though, something happened that made me realize, I will always be the person on the outside. Even if I make it in, I will always have one foot out the door, just in case. More than that, I realized, I'm OK with it.
People look at me and think I have a lot of friends. I don't. I am friendly. I am helpful. I am compassionate. Those things make others think I'm outgoing and have a ton of friends. In fact, when I told someone that certain things are hard for me because I have social anxiety, he was shocked. He would have never guessed. I work really, really hard to hide it, but it's always there. It's always making me feel unwanted....always on the outside.
My epiphany came in the form of awkward silence. It was in a moment of awkward silence that I realized, I don't need people who don't need me. Why do I want to be part of people's lives when the only time I'm good for their lives is when they need something? I'm the reliable one, not the fun one. The thing is, for the true friends, I'm also the fun one. Why would I want to be with people who don't care if they are with me or not? Why do I want to be seat filler?
I didn't know that I had made peace with being on the outside until I got in my car and started blasting my music. I may be old, but I still like to listen to my music cranked all the way up and sing at the top of my lungs. I only do this on special occasions now, when I'm feeling particularly free. As I turned up the music, I realized how free I felt. I had to really stop and think about why my mood was what it was. I realized it was because I'm alright not being that seat filler. I'm alright being on the outside. When it comes to the people who I truly matter to, I'm not on the outside. I have a name tag at my place at the table, not just filling an empty seat. I realize I will still feel bad at times while on the outside, but, at least I know that I don't need people who don't want me to have a permanent seat at their table.