Have you ever been watching a sitcom, curled up on the sofa under the softest blanket you own, sipping the perfect cup of tea, in pure relaxed bliss? You probably have. Have you ever had that bliss interrupted by an uncomfortable feeling as the group of buddies on the TV do something incredibly normal, such as a slumber party? You might have.
If you have, you are not alone. I had the same feeling the other day when I was scrolling through Instagram. On the explore page was a video of a group of women who were having the best time at a proper slumber party. It was a fun video of them jumping on the bed in matching pyjamas, matching sleep masks, and coloured feather boas. They were living their best life and there’s no doubt that this was a happy video, but it made me really sad.
Don’t get me wrong, I went to my fair share of sleepovers as a kid, but for the most part, they were one on one, with a close friend I had. I have never been to a proper slumber party with multiple people. Seeing the video online made me feel lonely, it made me think about all the experiences (I feel) that I missed out on, particularly in my teenage years.
I never had the experience of hanging out with a group of girlfriends, sitting around talking about boys, gossiping, doing one another’s hair and nails, buying matching pyjamas to wear, and generally bonding with each other. I realised at that moment that I have always felt like I was on the outside of friendship groups.
Without reaching out to all my old friends from school I have no way of knowing if I really was an outsider or if it was simply my own perception. However, I think that it doesn’t really matter whether it’s an accurate view or not, if it is how you are feeling it is valid.
We seem to have a terrible habit of measuring our success at being a good person by how popular we are, and I just don’t believe that it is accurate. I knew (and know) people who are mean and judgemental who are surrounded by people constantly. I also knew (and know) people who are the sweetest, kindest souls whose social circle is small.
If you are feeling lonely, left out, like a lone wolf and it’s making you feel bad, know that you are good. You are worthy of all the love of the people in your life, you will still achieve anything you want to achieve, you will have a great life, it just might not be like the movies.
I’m 27 years old now, I still have never had a big group of friends. I have, however, noticed that while I want everyone I meet to like me, I am physically unable to change myself to fit in with the crowd. My boyfriend has an amazing group of friends and family, who all have been nothing but lovely to me since I met them, but it has taken me almost four years to start to view these people as my friends, and that is entirely on me.
As someone who feels like a natural outsider, I would always convince myself that they were nice to me simply because I was dating their friend, that I was only invited places because he was invited and it’s only polite to say that I can tag along.
Recently, however, I have noticed that the people I am closest to out of my boyfriend’s friends have invited me places regardless of whether he can go or not. I have connected with his friend’s girlfriends who I didn’t think I would before because we seemed so different.
What changed? My attitude did. As I said, I want everyone to like me, but I am unwilling to change who I am. That’s a good thing in my mind because it means I am never anything other than genuine and authentic.
All I did was allow myself to be more open to genuine connection with those around me, and I would almost put money on it being a direct result of the pandemic and being forcibly kept from socialising with people. I wanted to talk to people, so I actively searched for common ground with others.
I feel fulfilled and likeable, which let’s be honest is all I really want. My circle of people I would call for advice still only consists of six people outside of family, but that’s five more than I had before.
There is nothing wrong with only having a handful of friends, but if you are feeling lonely, if you want to expand your social circle (socially distanced of course!), here is my advice:
Be you. That’s it. Be authentically, unapologetically; be open to connecting with anyone around you; be proactive in searching for common ground with people, I promise you there will be something.
Above all, know that you are an asset to anyone who walks alongside you through this crazy world, whether it’s just for a while, or for a lifetime.