Life Through the Eyes of the “Background Friend”

Jordan Shorter, Staff Writer

Throughout my four years in high school, I’ve had this weird feeling about myself that I could never really explain. I found myself always bouncing from friend group to friend group, trying to fit in but never being successful. That is until I was scrolling through Twitter one day and saw the phrase “popular loner.” This phrase was explained as a person who has many acquaintances, but doesn’t have a group of close friends. I don’t think I’ve ever related to a total stranger’s tweet so much in my life.
It’s really hard to express your feelings of loneliness, because people often don’t get it. It’s not that I literally have no friends, it’s just that all of my friends have closer friends that they usually cling to or would rather hang out with than me, so I kind of just float around. Whenever I would try to insert myself in a group, I just felt like I was imposing or didn’t fit in. This has been extremely difficult, because I’m a stickler for consistency, and my high school friendships have been everything but consistent.
This has been a struggle for me since freshman year, however, my senior year has made it a bit more difficult to deal with. It’s been just a constant cycle of people telling me they care, but then leaving me out of things. Maybe I’m overthinking things or exaggerating, but sometimes that’s how it feels. As much as I try to act like I don’t need anybody, it really hurts my feelings sometimes and I wonder if something is wrong with me. It makes me feel lame to always see people hanging out on the weekends, while I’m at home, like always. Now don’t get me wrong, I’m an introvert at heart, and I love being at home. I value alone time a lot, and that is probably part of the problem. It’s difficult to put myself out there in social situations, because it is far outside of my comfort zone. Sometimes I get mad at myself for being this way, but then I remind myself that it is perfectly okay to be an introvert. It doesn’t make me lame, or boring, but it does mean that I have to work a bit harder to put myself out there.
I’m not writing this to throw a pity party for myself or blame others for my lack of friends. I’m writing this to educate others on people like me. Loners or introverts aren’t unfriendly or cold. Most of the time we are tired of feeling unwanted, and in my case, are just over it. It can be difficult for people to understand why I am standoffish at times. I want friends, but I never know how to go about it. I’m constantly overthinking it, because being sociable isn’t something that comes easy to me.
I’m not perfect by any means. Of course I have my days, times where I do push people away because I don’t think that they really care, and I know I have to work on that. My advice to people like me is to realize that not everyone is out to get you. You may have had previous issues with friendships, but you are perfectly capable of being a good friend. To be a good friend, you have to allow people into your life first and let your guard down. I regret that I couldn’t show more people the genuine side of me over these past years. If I could go back, I would have tried to stay a bit more true to my fun side, because, believe it or not, I have one. In the end, I have learned so much about myself, and I now have motivation to put myself out there more in college.