Fear Factor - Friendship Edition

By: Tenley

Here I sit, watching them wear their ties and blazers with confidence. They seem cool and professional and I, little ol’ me, sit by myself. I have always been known to have an exaggerated and animated face, so it would come to no surprise that I have a sheepish and overwhelmed expression painted over what I hoped would be an equally confident and cool face.  I had no idea it would be like this.  I suppose in my wild daydreams I imagined myself walking into this room while heads turn and people go out of their way to sit next to me. I thought I would be brilliant at making friends. I mean, I’m wearing a braid in my hair- doesn’t that just scream friendly? But here I sit, all alone. And there they are, beautiful and already cliqued up. Even the daunting idea of writing a thesis is nothing compared to this one moment, this one high school lunch flashback, to being the odd girl out.


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You see, just a few days ago I packed up my life and moved to a new state.  I thought “How brave, child!” I channeled the essence of Birdie Conrad in You’ve Got Mail; you know the part where she says, “You are daring to imagine that you could have a different life… You are marching into the unknown armed with… nothing.“  I felt like going to graduate school would be sort of like that European backpacking trip I’ve been lusting after. Here I am world, armed with nothing but a smile, a few good papers from undergrad, and an oversized load of enthusiasm. Yeah, I knew it would have its challenges and it’s uncertainties. I suppose I just never thought making new friends would be one of them.


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And this friendship fear, probably just flashes a big bright arrow to my extroversion. I love people, making connections, and even talking to strangers in checkout lines and coffee shops. I was always well liked and positive. I mean, for crying out loud I was voted “sunshine girl” in college.  So what is it about this circumstance that is making me feel so inadequate?  What is it about this day, that is making me want to go through my closet and throw out old clothes that I actually love, so that I fit in with this group of people I don’t even really know yet? I love myself, don’t I?  I know I’m awesome, right?


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I think it’s like this: I am a people pleaser more than I am a people person. The very thought that someone MAY not like me, shakes my core violently.  All of a sudden I’m in a whirlwind of anxiety.  “Why is it that who I am isn’t good enough for you?” I wonder. Then I start to examine myself…. Thoughts swim in like,

“Well it’s probably your frizzy hair, girl. Yup, that’s it. “

Or

“Maybe if you read that one book that one time, you’d have something to say.”

Or

“It must be this dopey cat shirt.”

But eventually, the waves calm, and truth emerges.  “Yes,” I think, “I like my frizzy hair, that book didn’t seem interesting, and for goodness sake, this cat shirt it the best thing since skinny jeans!”

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I like myself. I like that I’m obsessed with Audrey Hepburn and chai lattes equally. I like that modern ballet can make me cry and that I’d rather watch Portlandia than Top Model. I like goofball 60’s beach movies and my bangs, even if others don’t.  And I suppose I like that I am smart enough to realize these things. I like that I am brave enough to know, it doesn’t matter what anyone else thinks. And I like that I’m mustering the courage to try not to care about their opinion of me.


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Yes, the fun factor of not immediately being accepted into a group is about zero. But the truth is either they will come around or they won’t. You can’t live your life hoping that others see you as something special. Instead, see yourself as special.  Do what you love; what speaks to you and it will light your spirit up so brightly that people will have no choice but to be blinded by your awesomeness. Your warmth will draw them in, and your kindness (and probably your cat shirt too) will make them stay. Embrace those quirky little things that make you awesome. I’m fairly certain I’ll meet kindred friends at some point, but I’ll just have to learn to embrace my introversion in the meantime. (I believe humans are both introverts and extroverts, maybe this is just time for me to explore other aspects of my being.) I’m going to learn to enjoy being with me… and if one day some sweet soul decides to enter my life, they are more than welcome.

Oh, and homework. I suppose I’ll do that too.


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We're Sarah and Kaitlyn, roommates from Milwaukee who started this blog to promote creativity and life.
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