There is a small, niggling feeling that accompanies me wherever I go. It is the tiny voice inside my head that questions and doubts my place in relationships. Not romantic relationships --that's an entirely other voice who wears black stilettos and sounds much like Kathleen Turner-- but in my friendships. In all my friendships, the ugly little voice of my childhood insecurities pokes her head into my mind and says, "They don't really like you."
When I was ten, I was particularly difficult. I had little social skills, little ability to read people, and a desperate need to fit it. These are not good in combination. I followed people, thrusting myself into their lives, attempting to be just like them, and -- by doing that -- made myself even more of an outcast. I copied their speech and movements, I gossiped and wheedled until other people were fighting. I pleaded and clung and made a general nuisance of myself. It was not until I was in my early teens (when I overheard a friend comment about how difficult it was to be around me) that I realized people did not like me.
As a teenager, I made it my mission to let people know I did not need them. I projected anger and violence and hatred. I was good at it. I had a few friends in high school -- ones I had grown up with or ones as angry as me. When I did try to reach out, I was often excluded or ignored. It was high school; that was life as we knew it.
Finally, one day, I grew up. Thankfully. I think it is likely that someone kicked me in the behind, but I am not sure what the catalyst was. Finally, I had friends and could read people and could interact without them hating me or feeling the need to set them against each other. I could show myself to people and have them accept me. I grew to like me better, and so did other people. However, even with all the acquaintances and a few really good friends, the niggling feeling has never left me completely.
As a grown up, it is not something I am proud of. There is no way to justify this feeling that I am not most liked so therefore am not really liked at all. One on one, I'm usually okay. I can keep the voice away. I can interact with friends and know for certain they enjoy being with me. But it is when I am in a group, I am still fairly convinced I am the least favourite. In a group, I feel out of place even when I know they are my friends.
It makes me wonder if I am not too far from that 10 year old girl.