A Motif of Exclusion

My family has stories about how friendly I was as a child. How we could pull up to a red light next to another car and how I would roll down my window and wave to others, introducing myself: “Hi I’m Kylie! What’s your name?” My mom said she was scared that I would make it all too easy for someone to snatch me up. Many things have happened since then that made me the way I am today.

First things first, I had horrible teeth. I always took care of them, but from the time my adult teeth grew in, they were very crooked. This made it hard to make friends in late elementary school until about halfway through high school. I had always thought that my teeth were the first thing people noticed when they talked to me. Because of this, I didn’t smile or laugh much, and I guess this made me very intimidating. But this made me formulate the whispers I thought I heard from thin air. It’s a hard thing having no control over something I wish I could change about myself, and every Christmas and birthday I begged my family for braces and nothing else.

I think another big part of it was the fact that my dad’s career forced us to move a lot, and while this should have made it easier for me to make friends, it didn’t. I knew how people worked and operated from a young age, people of all different backgrounds, and I think this intimidated me. I always wanted friends, I always wanted to be part of a group, but I was always terrified that going up and talking to someone would only backfire. I was always scared that people would invalidate me with their words, and demean who I was as a person just based on small talk. I saw so many around me make friends they still talk to now so easily, but it was never me.

High school was especially hard for someone like me. Freshman year I found myself with really only one good friend, at least for the first semester. At this point, I still didn’t have braces, so I never really talked to other people. Second semester, I made friends with two girls and a boy in my technology class. We all became really good friends, and always joked with each other and had a group chat that we talked in all the time for about a year. Initially, I was closer to everyone individually than they were to each other. I noticed the two girls began hanging out without me, or including other people, and this continued throughout my sophomore year as well. I started getting phased out, which I’ve noticed tends to happen to me. I have often felt alone in the idea that I will never find my pack.

Courtesy: WORTHY

My junior year was better. First semester, I found a group of girls I felt most myself with when we all got together. We all had the same painting class and became quick friends. Weekends were devoted to each other and pigging out on Safeway brownies while watching movies at my house. This quickly ended with the conclusion of the semester. Sitting at a new lunch table, I also became really good friends with two more girls who I began hanging out with for most of the semester. We would spend the night at my house on the weekends a lot, and had a constantly active group chat filled with plans we had with each other for the upcoming weekends. The phasing out of this group was my fault, as my first boyfriend began occupying most of my time, and this persisted through the remainder of my high school career.

In college, I found myself in a new group, and this time a big one. However, all of them but I lived close together, and I noticed I wasn’t being invited out as much because they didn’t want me to worry about how I would get there or home. Because of this, the rest of my first semester was very lonely. I felt like no matter what group I fell into, they would find reasons to not invite me out. I had always tried to be the best friend I could be to everyone, but the combination of all of these instances made me feel like my company was never a priority, or simply even wanted.

During my second semester, I, again, felt like I had finally found my group. We went out on the weekends all the time and I felt very included; but like all groups aforementioned, the conclusion of the semester meant the conclusion of my inclusion.

The summer allowed me to really reflect on why I was never thought of when it came to others seeking a fun time. This is when I realized that just because I haven’t found my group, doesn’t mean I won’t. I also realized that being a part of a big group, or a group at all shouldn’t be my priority. While my inclusion in these groups has always dissociated, I still have really good friends from each one. I still keep in touch with most of my best friends from junior year, and members of both groups I became a part of throughout both semesters of college.

I have noticed that I hold a particularly impenetrable guard up because of these things, though. I feel as though I am only always the friend people come to when they have a problem, but never the one they call up when they want to plan something fun. I feel as though I am not remembered unless I constantly take it upon myself to approach those I once felt so close to. It’s hard feeling closer to others than they are to you.

Growing up watching shows like Friends or even Victorious, with such strong and cohesive group dynamics, has always made me wonder what I was missing. But I have found that being the friend that people feel they can come to with their problems is enough for me. I have faith that I will fall into a group eventually but, for now, I have no problem continuing to be a friend who sticks their neck out for others.

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