(the title is a lie but it helps me justify spending as much time writing this as i am cuz i do actually have lab prep to do)
Being an outsider looking in isn't a new feeling to me. It's been like that ever since I can remember and I've grown used to it. Honestly, it's my fault this time around. I don't have the excuse of "we just don't have enough in common to spend lots of time together", "I just don't really enjoy doing the things you guys wanna do" or "I don't really like your personality or what you believe in". Every person I've met online is none of those and yet I still blame those things for being on the outside. I end up just nitpicking things to avoid hanging out with people. I make it seem like I have no time to do anything but in reality I plenty. Homework and studying might be hindered by hanging out and chatting but there's no reason I shouldn't be able to do both. I should be able to manage my time to be able to maintain friendships, do fine in school, go to work and keep a healthy relationship all while keeping my sanity. I've ended up in a catch 22 situation where I feel like I'm on the outside because I'm not social enough and I'm not social enough because I feel like I'm on the outside.
So what's stopped me from just taking the first step? The comfort of hanging out with Emily. Is that a bad thing? Not at all. Spending as much time as I have with her has strengthened our relationship more than imaginable. We try to Skype everyday because we like seeing each other. It's been to the point of falling asleep over Skype for a long time. She's become dependent on me as her rock and I love seeing her care about me so much. We find immense comfort in each other and I wouldn't trade that for anything. It's that same comfort that stops me from being more social. Why be around people that I just don't enjoy as much? I have somebody that I can do anything with and be happy no matter what. Some days, it's makes the outsider problem worse, others it's the only thing I want. Am I blaming my relationship? Absolutely not.
Being on the outside has given me an opportunity to observe how people behave. I'm not claiming to know anything but there's things I've noticed from afar. Everybody wants to be inclusive and friendly but in the end, you are closer to some people than you are to others. It happens for many possible reasons like political stances, personalities, levels of contact, mentalities etc. It doesn't take a psychology degree to see it. Everybody has certain levels of friendship with the people they interact with. Thinking of it in levels of closeness, I'd have Emily at level 1. People who I talk to everyday and that we share every intimate detail of our lives would go here. Level 2 would be people I hangout with often and we share loads of things together. I don't think anybody fits here because of how much I feel like I'm on the outside with just about everybody. 3 would be the people I've known for awhile and enjoy talking to. This is the people I talk to regularly on Twitter would be. After that is essentially the Afterstreamers I don't talk to often and the stream regulars/people I've just starting talking to. That's my way of seeing things. Ideally, everybody would be on the 2nd level but I haven't put in the effort to get there with people. Everybody has their circles and some circles are more vocal/have more presence. Those dominant circles end up pushing others out, likely not on purpose. The people on the inside don't often see what happens outside.
It's also a two way process. I can't be better friends with people who don't want to. I've changed myself early on to make the friends I have now. Things like not saying certain words/jokes, how I act, shutting up when I don't agree and playing moderator in arguments when I felt it was needed. I traded part of who I am for friendship and if you're going to tell me I didn't need to, I'm going to tell you to shove it. The person I was would never, ever fit in with the majority of friend circles. I can safely say I'm a more open and mature person thanks to the people I've met. And yet, I still feel like a secondary character. Somebody who's there but never a standout. I have to draw the line somewhere though. I want to closer to everybody but I'm not a puppet. People do things that I might not like and I'm not get on my knees and submit to them because I wanna be friends. Seeing people stand for what they believe is great. It's when they attack people that I take issue. I don't want that to sound accusatory and I don't want to start any drama but I simply don't know how to word it differently.
This is gonna be a minefield and a half to navigate without making it seem targeted but hopefully I can express myself correctly. I'm a person who believes in listening to every side of an argument. I don't think anybody should argue in absolutes like "you can't", "it's wrong" etc.. To me, it makes you sound ignorant. Ignorant in the sense that you're ignoring what the other person has to say. I know it's not easy when you have a strong stance about something to not defend it passionately, especially around controversial/personal topics. It's sad to me seeing people pushed away because they made a mistake and were demolished for it. Hell, some people might have deserve it but that doesn't make it any less sad to me. None of this means somebody can stir shit for fun or be a shit friend. In the end, if you disagree with someone about something that you find a big deal and can explain why it's such a big deal then not being friends is the only thing to do. It's the same if they can't empathize with you about the issue.
Hopefully I haven't destroyed every single friendship I have by this point. If you've read all the way here, thank you for reading the ramblings of a guy who thinks too much. I feel good getting my thoughts in words and hopefully I don't get railed for my thoughts. I'd be happy to listen to comments/questions/concerns/counter-points via DM or just chat if you wanna take the step for me and become better friends (not that I imagine anybody would want to).