Friday 24 January 2014

When It's Important To Be Lonely

I think one of the hardest and most important things I've ever had to come to terms with in life, is understanding and accepting the fact that it is impossible to please everyone.

After years of beating myself up about it, trying to change who am I, what I do and how I behave,  I can honestly say that it was until about three months ago, at the age of 21, that I realised that I had once and for all, came to peace with it.

And I can pinpoint the exact point that it happened.


Coming back to Uni this year, it was painfully evident that everything was so, so different.

After a summer of working hard, creating, exploring and adventuring, coming back to Uni was an uncomfortable aspect in itself - I felt so ready to get out of there and take on the world. But there had been a greater shift, between me and the people who I thought were my friends, and without even really noticing, I was suddenly nothing like them any more. They had all remained pretty similar during this time, but I was just... not.

I could see exactly what they thought. I was that 'girl that goes weird' in the friendship group, suddenly stops going on nights out and looks like a total recluse. And after I didn't return to the cheerleading squad, things got worse.

My friendship group dropped dramatically. And the hardest part about that was actually realising that we'd never really been friends in the first place. They weren't exactly going to 'miss me'. We'd only ever just been similar-seeming girls with a common interest.

Without cheer, I realised that I genuinely had nothing to say to them anymore.That was all they ever talked about all the time, and without that... there was literally nothing for me to say. But, in vain, I tried.

I didn't want to lose all of my friends at Uni, I didn't want them to resent having to live with me or be around me, so I found myself making a fool out of myself to try and be involved. I tried to be as pleasant as I could, laughed a little too hard at all their jokes, pretend to agree with things just so I fit in again, and it was all so false and strained. It was an exhausting effort to try and keep up this charade of normality.

Then, one evening we'd decided to go for a night out in the student union. Going out clubbing in the student club had zero appeal to me anymore; 3 years of the same place, same people, same outfits, same conversations and same music had just worn me down - but I went because I didn't want to be alone.

Halfway through the night - I'd been stood awkwardly on the outside of the group all night, forcing a smile, sipping my empty drink so it wasn't too obvious that I had nothing to say - I'd gone to the loo. I'd entered the cubicle and a couple of minutes later some of my friends bustled drunkenly into the cubicle next door, totally oblivious to the fact I was in the one next to it. I could hear from their stumbling and giggles that they were totally smashed, whereas I was struggling to get drunk myself.

I wasn't about to declare my presence so stayed in silence, but they were so drunk they were practically shouting. Then I heard my name.

'Oh my god Katie is so anti-social, why does she even bother.'

'I know, I actually cringe when I see her trying to make conversation, I pity her.'

I felt sick. 

I'd been trying so hard to make an effort so that the differences between us weren't so painstakingly obvious, and not only had they seen right through it, they were mocking me for trying. I know they were drunk and probably didn't mean to be so nasty, and would probably be mortified to know that I'd heard them, but that was it.

That was the moment I just.... got it.

My whole life I've had a knack for accumulating people who actively dislike me, and I've spent so long trying to analyse what I do wrong, why I am so apparently dislikeable as a person. I've got so worked up about it and truly hated myself sometimes, convincing myself that I'll never have any friends and I'm destined to be alone forever.

But really... I'm not alone. Not even slightly.

There's Harry, Hollie, Sophie, there's Pete, Flossie, Oliver and the TWC, and there's new people I've met through blogging like Charli - The most incredible, talented, and wonderful people that I've ever met. My best friends in the whole world. 

And yet, because they do not all travel in the same social circles, some don't even know each other, because I don't have a big communal group of friends, I am assuming I am alone? 

That was an insult to them as friends.

I'd spent so many years focusing on the bigger picture, putting so much effort into trying to get everyone to like me, I had almost been overlooking the greatest friends a person could ever wish to have.

And I got it.

It's a fundamental and difficult thing that cannot necessarily be learned, but one of the most important parts of growing up and finding your own happiness, is understanding that there is nothing you can do that will please everybody.

No matter what happens, there will always be some people who just won't understand or like you or what you do. This isn't having 'haters' - this is called life.

And focusing all your efforts trying to please the bigger picture is just such a waste of effort. It's just not worth it.

So I guess I'll never be someone with a huge group of friends that goes on 'girl's holidays' to Malia, or has 20 other girls I can swap outfits with when we're getting ready, but what I do have is some of the most incredible and beautifully unique people that I am lucky enough to be able to surround myself with, with no effort, no pretense, no falsity. People that just get it and are on the complete same wavelength, that our friendship is the most natural thing in the world.

And if ever comes a time where in a new scenario I find that I don't really find anyone I get on with, I can put my hand up and say I'd much rather be alone. I will fly the flag for team loner and say that sometimes it's better to be by yourself, than to be surrounded by people that make it difficult to be yourself.

Because people think that being alone is what makes you lonely, when really, being around the wrong people is the loneliest thing of all.