Always Feeling Like an Outsider

Or…Feeling alone in every situation.Image

Or Are You a Socially Awkward Penguin?

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Get the idea? Are you someone who is uncomfortable in social situations? Do you always feel like the outsider in any situation? Do you find yourself feeling alone even in a crowd?

Welcome to my world.

You would think that by my age, it wouldn’t matter. It shouldn’t matter what other people think, or if they care I am with them, or if they act like they are glad to see me or if I am even there. But it does.  I think it is just a human thing. Wanting to belong. Wanting to matter. Wanting to be noticed..or even just acknowledged.

I will give you some situations and share with you how I feel. I have a feeling some of you may be surprised.

I have never been comfortable at parties.  I was never the party girl, never knew how to just let loose. I always felt awkward and still do. I was never the funny one, the cute one…I was usually the quiet one. The wallflower.  (The one thing that is great for, though, is people watching. Which is fascinating, btw!) I have never been one that people gravitate to. More likely I am the one they can’t remember being there!

I feel like an outsider at family gatherings. I always have.  Again, not the one people tend to gravitate to. Not the one they seem to have missed. Not the one they look for to sit and talk to.

I bet many of you are thinking right now…why don’t I just go out and seek people, sit with them, talk with them.  I do. I have. It is awkward. I feel like I am imposing. I feel like someone just sitting there. That I am wandering looking for what, I don’t know.

When I go places with others, I always feel like that outsider.  It can be on rides for our motorcycle group. Or a gathering of my Clay friends. I don’t know if I feel like I came late to the game, or if it is because they are just closer, or as in the motorcycle group, it is because I don’t actually ride one.  Sometimes I feel looked on as not as important.

I sat at home yesterday alone. I didn’t have anyone to call or anyone to hang out with. Sometimes feeling like this makes for a truly lonely existence. If you have never experienced any of what this is like then I am sure you don’t understand.

You might say. Just call someone. Just talk to someone. Jump in. Be a part of it.

That is it. I can’t. When I do, I feel again, awkward, silly, stupid, embarrassed…you get the picture! Not an easy way to be….

So maybe next time you are in a group, at a party, hanging out, or whatever and you are talking and laughing with the same people, you might take a minute to remember us socially awkward penguins…we may be quiet or not be as engaged…but it isn’t that we don’t want to be, it might be that we just don’t know how to be.

I think in some way, we all really do just want to belong.

12 comments

  1. This sounds like a very difficult issue for you, or anyone, to deal with. I think the older we get, the less we want to work that hard to be acknowledged and liked. There’s no worse feeling than being lonely. I would suggest all the usual things – clubs, church, etc – but most of all I would suggest becoming comfortable with solitude.

    • Sometimes I do love the solitude. But many times with others, for once it would be nice not to feel that feeling of imposing, or not belonging…. It isn’t a matter of being with others…I have many opportunities as such. It is how it feels IN those situations. And how I was thinking that by this age, that should have changed. But sometimes it doesn’t.

  2. Maybe it’s like learning to shake hands when you’re a young adult or newly entering the business world–you just make yourself put out your hand, and give a firm pump. It feels awkward, and it might always feel awkward. But you do it anyways. Rarely do I ever question shaking someone’s hand any more. I think sometimes we have to be willing to do things that make us uncomfortable if we wish to overcome something. You know what *they* say, “It is precisely OUTside of our comfort zone where magic lives.” It can be exhilarating to try and succeed. Devastating to try and fail. When we fail, we just have to take a moment, try not to beat OURSELVES (because it probably really isn’t about us at all, we just assume it is, because that’s what we do, we go there) up, move on and do it again anyway. I feel ya, but I try to do it anyway, and then I try again.

  3. Its like …even when I am a part of it, I don’t feel it. It is hard to explain if you haven’t felt that…. I think maybe it comes from a lifetime or a beginning lifetime of low self-esteem. Being put down, told you were never good enough…sometimes you tend to believe that forever….even when you don’t want to.

  4. Joy, I feel just as you do. You’re not alone in this feeling, I too feel lost, don’t fit in, late to the party, don’t want to intrude etc. You just said exactly how I feel.

  5. Joy, I have never thought of you like you have described. You have always seemed so confident and outgoing when we have been around each other, granted it hasn’t been many times. As I get older, I am finding I am experiencing the same thought as you.

  6. I have felt the same as you most of my life, Joy. In the last few years, though, I’ve come to embrace the introverted outsider that’s me because, well, because that’s ME and turns out that I really do like me. I think it might be helpful for you to read “The Introvert Advantage: How To Thrive in an Extrovert World” by Marti Olsen Laney. A friend recommended it to me and it made a big difference. Good luck. And know that you are far from alone.

  7. I think a question we should ask ourselves more often when we feel out of step is, “do we really have a problem with it”? Social comfort is something people value, so it’s easy to feel you fall short if you’re on the quiet side. However, there may be something you take from observing more than participating that serves you (and likely others) in some way that’s just hard to identify right now. And yet – it might be important.

  8. Joy, I’m an introvert and pretty comfortable in many of the situations you’re mentioning. Still, I have learned that I have the best conversations with people at gatherings who aren’t at the center of the party- those who don’t want to be in the middle of the fray. When I say “Hi” to someone like that, I usually find someone who is interesting, and we have a great conversation. Many have turned out to be true friends. I hope we meet someday- Virginia- FirstClassWoman

  9. I know you are quiet, but I also know that you are someone I always look for. I know when I talk to you that your eyes are not glazing over and you are not looking over my shoulder for someone better to talk to. Someone with your looks, accomplishments and talents feeling the way you describe yourself is never how I would describe you.

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