Fitting In

Fitting in is totally out of style now, right?!  Too bad my inner child has not caught up with this trend.  Maybe it’s not so much ‘fitting in’ that I have a thing with, it’s more about being liked and having friends.  It goes back to my childhood when I didn’t have a lot of friends, and I definitely didn’t fit in (so maybe it’s a little of both).  

Seriously though, who doesn’t like being liked?  More so, I think when you’ve gone through a period in life where you felt especially UNliked you want even more to be liked.  It’s a feeling that you have to prove your worth so others will want to have you around.  As though just being who you are isn’t enough because there have been times when it seemed like others thought you weren’t good enough.

I don’t know how many people have felt this way in their lives, I’d imagine most people at one time or another.  As I got older I was diagnosed with major depressive disorder and then anxiety disorder, which definitely played into my feelings of worthlessness.  And while I have come a long way in accepting myself as an individual and learning to like myself, I still have feelings of inadequacy.  Building relationships with friends that go beyond the surface, trusting people, having friendships that last – is something I really struggle with.

I had a few friends in high school that I truly believed would be in my life for the long haul.  People I thought would be at my wedding and I at theirs, no matter how many miles came between us or the different directions our lives took us.  We did manage to stay close throughout college, even though I went to school in California and most of them stayed in Iowa where we were raised.  About a year after college I had my first major depressive episode and moved back to Iowa for treatment.  My life fell apart and things got really ugly.  None of those friends stuck around through that.  I realize my behavior was erratic at times and I know I said things that I didn’t mean, so I mostly blame myself.  However, I can’t help but feel abandoned by people I had depended on in my time of need.

The same thing happened with the friends I made in college.  I had always believed that the friends you made in college would be friends you had for life, maybe I got that from movies or tv shows.  I thought I had made friends that were more like family, especially those I lived in the dorms with.  We lived together, partied together, cried together, went on vacations together, stuck through some of the best and worst times of our lives together.  Yet slowly but surely they’ve all disappeared from my life.  Some lost touch before I moved back to Iowa but once I was gone – I guess the saying is true, out of sight out of mind.  It might not bother me so much if I didn’t know that some of them are still close with each other. It is this which leads me to believe it IS me, that maybe I am a bad friend or not worth the trouble of keeping in touch with.

Perhaps this is all simply the ebb and flow of life, people moving in different directions, and the separation of physical distance.  Except my three closest friends today live thousands of miles away from me, so clearly this is a theory not based in fact.  The truest fact is that my husband is my best friend in this world.  He not only accepts me but loves me even when I feel inadequate, when I doubt myself, on good days and bad, depressed, anxious, happy, or wherever I may fall in between.  Despite knowing how lucky I am to have found him and how grateful I am to have him in my life, part of me still yearns to be liked by my peers.

I am now guarded around new people.  I am afraid that if I let someone in they won’t like what they see and will run for the hills.  I have trust issues and am more likely to isolate myself than try to make a new friend.  I suppose this would be called a coping mechanism, though probably not the healthy type.  I feel like I should have the confidence not to care, and a bit silly for caring enough to write about it.  I may have abandonment issues to work on.  Definitely some self-esteem building to do.  I think the solution starts inside me.  I have to deal with the pain from my past and learn to love the person I am today, or at least try.

Do YOU feel the need to be liked by others?

Do you struggle with maintaining long-lasting friendships?

I’d love to hear what you think in the comments below!!!       

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18 thoughts on “Fitting In

  1. Abbie, you have hit a complicated and often confusing subject. I’ve had some friends who I just lost contact with after years, one of whom I found again on social media after 30 years of being out of touch. As far as meeting and making new ones, I am also – maybe guarded isn’t quite the right word – I don’t put much energy into efforts to get out and engage socially, such as hanging out somewhere like a neighborhood bar or cafe. Socializing can feel like a lot of work and risk, and I can get very comfortable as a hermit. Actually, blogging and interacting on Face Book are the most self-revealing things I’ve done in a long time. So, the friends I’ve made in this realm are, like yours, scattered over much of the planet (You know a bunch of them.) Being liked feels good. Being let down feels bad. And, some of those lost old friends got lost by my own neglect, and a tendency to slip into, “If they aren’t going to make the effort, why should I?” kind of thinking.

    Two other things: (1) I like you. (2) This is going to be an interesting thread.

    Liked by 1 person

    • I always love your comments, Robert… So thoughtful and relatable. I like you too, btw 😊 I think one of the main things it comes down to is relationships are hard work and it definitely takes both people to maintain them. The downside is it can be very disappointing, sometimes even heartbreaking, when they don’t work out. Being the sensitive person I am, my feelings are easily hurt and I take things personally even when I probably shouldn’t. Letting go and moving on is hard for me, but I am working on it.

      Liked by 1 person

  2. My need to be liked is cyclical. When I’m busy, I’m content with how things are. When I’m bored, I fret over lost friends. But, it isn’t as simple as keeping myself busy all the time. Sometimes when I’m busy with current friends I reminisce about the ones I no longer see. And sometimes when I’m by myself I’m thoroughly enjoying the calm and quiet…
    So, it’s a conundrum.

    Liked by 4 people

  3. I have always felt not good enough. I have had friends, but never enough in my mind, and I was to blame for that. I felt insecure that people didn’t want to make it work because being friends with a blind person is too much work. This is a lot in my own head. I have lost friends, so precious because I had trouble making them. One friend left and I blamed myself. I have felt unappreciated but still like I wasn’t fun enough or whatever. I struggle to make and keep friends as I’ve gotten older.

    Liked by 3 people

  4. All those feelings are familiar Abbie. To be liked is a basic human desire, so it’s perfectly natural to want that from other people. But it’s tricky to make happen as social connection takes commitment from both sides. Mental illness is also a big hurdle to making this happen. All I can suggest is that I have found being gentle with myself and not fretting over the past, is very helpful.

    About 5 years ago I wanted more good friends, so I made decisions to enact that. I knew it was about me, not other people. So I made the decision to say “Yes” to every invitation I received from others over a year. That brought new experiences and took me way outside my comfort zone, but underneath all that I trusted myself to cope and trusted myself to be likeable.

    Not to say “it’s your fault” if you don’t have the friends you desire, more that your circumstances can distract you from what you need to do to make it happen. Battling depression and anxiety certainly does make it very difficult. So first, be kind to yourself. Give yourself space to be unwell, to be not coping. But also give yourself space to be coping, to have a good day and break outside your normal patterns. Know you are interesting. Know that other people are too. And know that only some people will be in the same space for you to connect with. A smile is my way of testing that space and seeing who responds to me.

    I know you will find your space, the place where others will be happy to meet you.
    XO

    Liked by 1 person

  5. Someday you will look back on this one & say “Wow. I’ve come a long way.” How do I know, gorgeous? I was you once. Not that long ago either.
    You are so much stronger than you can even see yet. *hugs*

    Liked by 1 person

  6. I do still think I have the biggest ever “OMG THAT’S SO TOTALLY ME” reaction to this, and I have an insatiable need to be liked and engage warmly and meaningfully with other people. I complain a lot about not having people in real, and having people a million miles away online with whom I feel in perfect sync…and yet it’s not about the distance, because in person I’ve felt utterly at ease with some of those people, so I can only conclude it IS about the people. I am bad at letting my guard down here, having been so often betrayed, and with people online I feel more able to be safely intimate (if that makes sense) and become friends in ways I don’t think I would if I met someone face to face without preface. I’m not making sense, but you did, and I love how you put it, and am very glad to be your friend ❤

    Liked by 1 person

  7. I would like more friends, but feel my self-esteem is too non-existent to reach out and talk to people. Then I beat myself up wondering why people don’t like me…is it because I’m too fat, too ugly, etc. It’s an evil cycle sometimes. Thank goodness for pets!!

    Liked by 1 person

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