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!!!