To The Girl Always Left Behind

 

              When I was in high school, I thought I was “defying social boundaries.” I never dressed up, I never wore makeup, because in my mind I was in the middle of a social project: that people would just accept you for who you were, and not all the frills. (Older, I realize the flaws in that, and sometimes I go to class with eyebrows fully on, and dressed to the nines, and sometimes I still go to class having just rolled out of bed. And self expression is more than a checkbox.)

 

              To give you a mental image… I had braces, which I color coded “highlighting” my canines specifically, and I had yellow tinted lenses on my purple frames. I wore a lot of bootcut jeans and sweaters. I had, and still have a close, personal relationship with Ugly Betty. (We’re also from the same part of NY, so fate?)

 

              I told myself, that in college, I’d never let myself be treated the same. I refused to be “a loser” in university like I was in high school. See, it took me about four years to “find my people” as we like to say these days. And, amazingly those few friends I really connected with in those years, I’m still close with to this day, even thousands of miles away from home. But I was so upset with myself that I let myself be isolated from all those typical high school experiences.

 

              I was so shy to go to school dances, or sit at a table first at lunch, or sit on the bus because deep down I knew I’d probably be alone and I hated it. I didn’t understand why I was never invited to the movies, or birthday parties, or anything really. And I covered it with a terrible sense of humor-one that I haven’t gotten rid of yet actually.

 

 

              So when I got to college, I ditched the braces, got a new pair of glasses and actual contacts, stopped doing a panda style eyeliner situation (ONLY on the bottom waterline) and learned to fill in my blonde eyebrows. I bought more than just plaid shirts and sweaters, and burned my bootcut jeans that were made for someone in the 80s.

 

              Oh, and I moved about 1,694 miles away from home.

 

              I knew that if I wanted to change my situation, I’d have to go out of my comfort zone. And I tried. I really did my best. I joined so many clubs and organizations, and I poured my heart and soul into my new community.

 

              But I still wasn’t getting invited anywhere. I still didn’t make those close friendships filled with people who supported you unconditionally and never, ever, left you behind. Or just wanted your presence to be an “extra filler.” I spent so many personal milestones alone. I spent my birthday alone. And I was crushed because… I looked into the mirror and still saw the girl from that small town high school who spent every weekend home with terrible fashion sense, and was too nervous to try to make friends because she spent so much time alone.

 

              And I spent so much time thinking about what I didn’t have, that I forgot about what I did have. I made some amazing friends in high school. People that have touched my soul and will never leave my mind for as long as I will live. And in university, I spent a birthday celebration with friends I had made from church, and I did so much more in a few months that I never would’ve though possible. And I met some people who I wouldn’t consider best friends, and I met others who I can’t imagine my days without.

 

              While I can’t tell you that I’m a social master, always the first once chosen in team sports, or always called first for invites… What I can say is that these relationships with people take time. And trust me, I know it’s not easy to hear, because it’s something I don’t have an answer to because I still struggle today to be not left behind. Even with people I consider friends.

 

              I don’t have the answers I’m sorry to say. But I do have a challenge for you. Be the friend to others that you yourself wish you had. We can’t force others to be inclusive and remember those who tend to stay on the outside, but we can invite people into our circles ourselves, and show kindness whenever we can. That’s all we have really.

 

 

Stay happy, healthy, and safe Rams. And talk to someone new this week. Who know’s how it’ll affect the trajection of the rest of your life?