Column; The Cons of Fitting In

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Column; The Cons of Fitting In

Alyssa White, Staffer

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I don’t know where I belong yet. After celebrating my 16th birthday, the realization hit me forcefully. My friends told me happy birthday, like they’re expected to, and made it feel like I made a meaningful piece to their lives. To many others, it’s endearing, but when my friends make the effort, I get anxious.

 

If you’re like me, and you finally find a place where you belong, that’s when you start feeling lonely again. The phenomenon could be loosely described as fearful avoidant attachment, the term used to the type of attachment associated with social anxiety at a young age. This is simply just a type of living, something that cannot be changed easily, if at all. Avoidant attachment lives are characterized by being fearful of being too close or too distant socially with friends and family. Unfortunately, this promotes insecurity, and with insecurity comes isolation, holding its hand and never more than a step behind.

 

Being so vulnerable, I find it nearly impossible to have a close connection with people, even with friends I’ve known for years. There’s a constant cycle of wanting to be quiet, but ultimately failing when anxiety-ridden thoughts become a burden, and it all comes out.

 

When it comes to describing someone that experiences avoidant attachment, the words “brash” and “selfish” come to mind: brash because they think quickly in order to please others, and selfish because they want to help themselves first before thinking about the people around them.

 

I regret meeting one of my friends. Let’s call her Jane. Now, calling us “friends” is a stretch because there had been something between us, but not a relationship. Friend is just what we called each other. I feel guilt when I think of her not because she was the one who hurt me, but because I could not stop hurting her. When Jane and I met through a groupchat, everything had been just fine. There had been a sort of balance; we weren’t talking every day, but when we did talk, everything was comfortable. She was there when I needed her, and while she insisted she didn’t need any help, I always offered it.

 

While I did know what avoidant attachment was at the time, I didn’t think I had it. My therapist had taught me to believe that my past failed friendships were not because of me, and that I could be upset. Blaming myself before was not possible for me, let alone caring about how deeply I could affect others.

 

Almost a year after we had become friends, Jane and I were talking for as long as we were awake. More comfortable with each other, we began to forget our differences and filters. Still, I was not blaming myself for anything, living an egocentric life, and I began to lean on her more. Jane was still hesitant, and only reflected what she felt in short bursts, usually angrily. To this day, I’ve only seen her sad twice.

 

When we had finally confessed our feelings for each other, it had been the both of us crying and looking for help: she had been feeling lost, and I had been desperate for affection. At this point, we had still never fought. However, instead of a fight, one time she had told me to stop bottling things up when I got frustrated. Jane explained to me that it wasn’t healthy and it wasn’t fair to our friends who got caught up in the middle of my anger. For her, I made the effort to communicate my feelings. It was after this that the fights began.

 

They were nasty, truthfully. Both of us had said horrible things, myself holding back from swearing at her until she called me selfish. Together, we came up with horrible names and used them when we ran out of arguments. We were angry, but now that I look at it, I don’t think it was at each other, at least for me.

 

The first couple of times, we made up on our own, tearful and regretting what we said. However, this quickly disappeared, and soon, I put our mutual friends in a difficult position.

 

One of them is still one of my closest friends today. The others? I don’t remember who broke it off. Maybe it was me. Maybe I had stopped being their friend when their interest in my problems dissipated, and I only received generic replies, if not silence. Either way, we don’t talk anymore, and I know they don’t talk to Jane either.

 

At the time I began writing this column, Jane and I had been okay. Recently, the fights returned, but they are no longer loud like the storm outside at night. They are silent. We avoid each other in the same group chats, and I try not to use her name when I talk to our friends about the situation. Even if I had apologized genuinely, more than once, I do not blame her for not forgiving me.
Right now, I sit in the original position. Surrounded by my friends, I fill a role, but I don’t feel like I belong. I joke around and provide commentary my friends remember for the next conversation, but whenever they talk, I can’t remember anything because I’m stuck thinking. While their lips move and I do not hear them, I look at my friends, and think about when I’ll mess up our friendship for good. There will be a day when that happens, it’s inevitable, but that’s fine. For now, I’ll try to fit in with the rest.

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