an outsider looking in

Discussion in 'The Watercooler' started by Steely, Jun 9, 2009.

  1. Steely

    Steely Active Member

    I can put on the act, I can blend and mold to be the part - but I rarely feel connected to people. In fact shallow and vaporous personalties seem to tap my inner resources, and leave me feeling emotionally and physically drained by the end of the day. I seem to end the day feeling void of true connection even though I work with a lot of people each day.

    I keep thinking that if I just reach out, and try and kindle friendships, I will feel better. But I don't. Instead I feel worse. I feel like an outsider trying to fit in - and it is tiring and exhausting. I don't think others notice - only me. I leave social situations feeling empty and taxed even though I might be laughing and playing the part.

    I cannot explain it. It is as if I have lived the life of 10 people in my 42 years, and there are few who can relate, or understand that. Consequently I find myself talking about what I feel are meaningless or shallow conversations & for whatever reason, that exhausts me.

    I am just wondering if anyone else ever feels this way. I am trying so hard to be different than I used to be, and make friends - and yet I still find that most people bore me. Not everyone, just the majority. Is this just me? Do I need to just accept the reality that I am in the 2% of the world? Do you guys ever feel this way?
  2. ThreeShadows

    ThreeShadows Quid me anxia?

    Some of us live this way our whole lives. To me it is an existential crisis. I thought that creating a "loving" family would cure me of the emptiness. It hasn't. I walk through my years just observing how others behave. I am a "watcher". I suppose it's creepy for other people...It's lonesome but rather entertaining, sort of like birdwatching, I can't be part of the avian world but I have a huge smile while the birds do their thing. It's hard to connect with other humans but it sure beats being dead. I wonder if this is because I never really connected with my mother.

    Please don't take the "dead" part to heart. I remember about your beloved H.
  3. Hound dog

    Hound dog Nana's are Beautiful

    I lived feeling that way for many years. Many years.

    I didn't have a close friend until my mid 30's. And then she turned to heroine and that pretty much ended that. There were times when I'd wonder if I'd ever know friendship and be able to socialize with a fair amount of ease. I don't do well in large groups of people. And whenever I had a job it was as if I put on a personality in the morning before I went to work and took it off again when I came home.

    It's only been the past few years when I seem to not care about how I come off socially or that I have close friends that I've grown more confortable socializing. And I think that's odd. But it seems to be true. I go out and do what I want to do, say what I have to say and don't give much thought to it. And strangely enough, I've made many friends much more easily than I ever have in my entire life. Socializing is becoming easier.....and I'm really not putting forth a lot of effort.

    I've resolved myself to the fact that I'm too guarded a person to probably have a super close friendship with someone in the day to day world. Or else I just haven't met them yet.

    I still don't know if I'm getting the social thing. It was never really something I was all that good at. At least not as my "true" self. I can put on a personality to fit just about any situation, a trick I learned as a kid. But that's not quite the same thing.

  4. Andy

    Andy Active Member

    Steely, You have lived through so much instensity these past many many years. Your body and soul is still looking out for the "adventure" which was really anxiety. You are so used to dealing with dramatic situations that every day life is actually boring.

    You need to find comfort/peace in your new lower than normal for you stressful days.

    You find that people will probably not understand your history because it would take too long to fill them in and they may not be able to handle the stress you have survived.

    I heard that one of my neighbors told a new neighbor that I like to keep to myself. That is not necessarily true. I want to be part of the crowd but I don't know how so I do end up quietly watching and occassionaly joining in but soon am at a loss to how to keep a conversation going.

    I have always been on the go but am now starting to settle down and enjoying the "quiet" non-stressful life. What used to seem so boring to me because it was not filled with action or me accomplishing something is now becoming my comfort zone.

    I think you have entered a "quiet" zone so quickly that it is hard for your body to slow down that fast. I would say continue to give it time. New friends and a new life style does take a long time to build. In the mean time, try to find some excitement. Are you interested in local sports teams - something to cheer for - something to get your emotions running in a healthy way?
  5. witzend

    witzend Well-Known Member

    Sometimes I feel this way, but not as much anymore. I wonder if you might find some comfort in a regular relaxation technique like yoga or tai chi, or some other sort of exercise? I hope you will look into finding an active distraction from these thoughts that you can go to and rely upon to get away from the sadness that you have.
  6. muttmeister

    muttmeister Well-Known Member

    I am definitely a loner and, while I don't dislike people in general, a little of them goes a long way.
    Growing up, I was an only child and I think I got used to being by myself (with my dog).
    In high school, I did have about 3 close friends but I was made fun of by most of the kids (being called "boobs" by everybody when you're just coming of age definitely has an effect).
    All my life, I tried to get close to people and fit in in large groups (or even small groups) but that is just not who I am. I don't think that people don't like me; I have lots of acquaintances who seem to laugh at my jokes and they probably think they know me but they don't.
    I'm very lucky to have about 3 or 4 very close friends that I made in college (40 years ago). Three of us are getting together this weekend. Those are really the only people that I feel comfortable being myself with.
    I do feel sometimes that I am putting on an act. I go out; I socialize; I come home thinking that those people don't have a clue what I am really thinking. I much prefer to be at home alone with my dogs and my books but I do make myself go out because I know it is good for me to see some other people occasionally.
    I used to worry about being like that. As I get older I have realized that that is who I am. It does not make me unhappy; it just makes me different.
    If you are truly unhappy with the situation then I suppose you need to work harder to find some people that you share some interests with and hope that you will strike up a friendship. I have learned that real friendships don't usually blossom overnight. It takes as much or more time to grow a good friendship as it does to grow a marriage or an oak tree. But if you are only unhappy with the status quo because you think you should be different and that is what other people expect, then lean back and enjoy who you are. I have come to realize that if I tried to be friendly and socialize with lots of people every day the man in the little white coat would have to come and take me away to the funny farm. We are not all cut out to be social butterflies. As long as I have my dogs and my books and a FEW friends, I am happy.
  7. Star*

    Star* call 911

    Maybe this is some type of explanation -

    As a young child - I felt very disconnected to everyone. My parents were good parents, but very strict - my father a hermit of sorts.

    When I married I thought I finally got the family the big family that I longed for. THinking from an adoptee point of view I must have been from a large family and this would put me back to "normal". It did not.

    I survived the marriage - got out -and as I get older Steely - I find that I'm more comfortable being a watcher too. I sometimes think if I hit the lottery I'd like to go places and just sit and watch people all day. I don't think it's creepy - I think it's a curiousity.

    As I get older? The more I know people the more I love my dogs better. Really. I never thought I would be a loner - but I'm back where I started and while I can entertain and carry on conversations with a stranger? I'm really more comfy being alone. Nearly every friend I have ever made has used me, and tossed me to the side and at mid 40's I just don't feel like going through the motions of "Want to be friends?" I'm not shy, I'm not an introvert - I can be the literal life of a party - but I can't do it all day long.

    I enjoy my slow-paced life now - where things are predictable to a point, and I have my family around me and my dogs. Not that I wouldn't mind having a BFF - but at this point in my life? I just don't have the energy to get tossed aside again -and I'm not naive anymore so I just don't put myself in that spot.

    It's not that I'm superior - but I've become pretty selective over the last few years and well - like I said - I don't mind meeting someone for coffee or going to lunch, but I just don't enjoy all the fakey fake, bossy, you don't measure up female carp in my life - not any more.

    I just think some of us get to a point where keeping it real is better than playing the game.

    Just a thought. :tongue: THen of course there is being totally serious all day long......(not) ever
  8. Mattsmom277

    Mattsmom277 Active Member

    Add another one to the club. I'm very sociable by nature. can hold my own in any social situation and everyone thinks they get to know "me" etc. But I leave and come home to my family and books and painting and am quite happy that way. I have one good friend from way back to high school days. We don't live too close anymore but see each other a few times a year. We speak every couple weeks by phone and also stay in touch in between via internet. She knows the "real me". Otherwise, I've tried through the years but like was mentioned earlier in this thread, I'd end up used or just plain not treated properly as a friend. We all in this house joke about being hermit like.
    But the fact is, we are all pretty happy in our circle. We do get out enough to not feel like shut ins or anything. But the phone rarely rings, and we have our own patterns of having fun together at home or going out as a family. I'm too old to play games with friendships. I'd love to find one or a few really true friends, but I haven't seemed to find one in a long time. Not anyone I can feel "myself" around.
    I have gotten over it, over time, that feeling that this must be weird of me. I don't find it strange at all. The more people I meet my age or older seem to be the same. I don't feel unhappy or that my life isn't as full simply because I dont have a large circle of friends. There are moments I'd love a girls night out with women who I felt truly close to, but otherwise, I'm content at this stage in my life with the way things are for me.
    I am definitly a "watcher". People fascinate me.
    I don't think it has to be a bad thing to not have a large circle of people close to me. Truly, my life has been so full of carp that it could easily be too much for "friends" to cope with. Now that life is settling into somewhat normalcy, perhaps this will change. But I won't be stressed if things stay the way they are.
    I think for you Steely it is probably a bit more bothersome because you are living alone. I hope that even in the social situations that you aren't really close to anyone, you can find some good in those interactions. Even those types of socializing can be incredibly healthy.
  9. Steely

    Steely Active Member

    Yes, I think that it is that I need to accept that I am OK being a loner. I feel pressure to "have friends" because that is what everyone else considers normal. But the truth of the matter is that is not what feels right or normal to me. I am in the 2% of the world or something. It makes me feel better that some of you feel the same way.

    I spent the whole day with a "friend" yesterday - and I would have given a million dollars to just have spent it with myself. I would have felt less lonely and less lost - I would have felt comfortable and not like I was trying to stuff my soul into a duffel bag.

    I don't know. I am just in a weird spot. Trying to understand and define myself beyond the pain in my life. I do not want the trauma, loss, and abuse to define me - and yet - in some ways these things do define us all right? Otherwise we would not come together on this board. Right?
  10. DammitJanet

    DammitJanet Well-Known Member Staff Member

    I was going to point out how many of us get together on a message

    I am completely like you describe. I have always described myself as having masks. If I go out, I have to put on my public mask. It comes off when I get home. I have never been good at making or keeping friends. I really dont know why. I desperately want at least a couple of people who know me inside and out but it really never seems to work for me. I jokingly say now that I have to pay to have that friend.
  11. trinityroyal

    trinityroyal Well-Known Member

    Steely, it might be something as simple as being introverted.
    Doesn't mean that you're shy or reserved or anything, just that you recharge your batteries by being alone, and that being around people drains your energy.

    A snippet, talking about personality types as defined by Carl Jung:
    The trait of extraversion-introversion is a central dimension of human personality. Extraverts (also spelled extroverts[1]) tend to be gregarious, assertive, and interested in seeking out excitement. Introverts, in contrast, tend to be more reserved, less outgoing, and less sociable. They are not necessarily loners but they tend to have smaller circles of friends and are less likely to thrive on making new social contacts. Introverts are less likely to seek stimulation from others because their own thoughts and imagination are stimulating enough.

    There are lots of us out there. I think the extraverts are the ones who consider having a large circle of friends and always being around people to be normal. You don't hear about the others because we're off to the side watching quietly.

    I call it "Showtime". When I have to go out, I can be very sociable, even vivacious. However, it better be something really good to drag me out of my house, and I'm inevitably exhausted afterward and need a few days of alone time to settle back down. My co-workers know better than to ask me out to lunch. I relish the time when they're all out at restaurants. I have the entire office to myself and sit quietly at my desk enjoying the silence while I eat.

    It's perfectly normal. If you're happy being a loner, then it's probably just how you're wired.

  12. totoro

    totoro Mom? What's a GFG?

    Yes. LOL

    I want a close friendship. But i want it to be comfortable. I don't mind putting the work into it. Or at least I wouldn't, If it felt natural in the beginning. Know what I mean??

    I have always felt like an outsider, unless I was using.

    husband has so many friends. He is naturally drawn to people and they to him. He is comfortable with people.
    I can also "make" conversation and play the part.

    We have neighbor down the street and when we first met she offered car pool, but in a demanding way. It turned into us doing the driving.
    Then every rime I saw her at School she would "talk" to me only if no one else that she knew was around, then just walk away when she saw someone she knew.
    She would always make comments like, "I never see you around" "Where have you been hiding".
    But in front of others in a rude way...

    These are things I could never say nor do to another.
    Of course my mother in law questioned why I didn't try to make friends with her? mother in law is over the top friends with every one.
    I try for every ones sake to make a connection, but it always seems phoney or forced.
    Just like you say Steeley.

    I too can sit and watch the birds or go for a hike...

    I have one very close friend in Idaho.
    But at times having no family makes it feel lonely.
  13. ThreeShadows

    ThreeShadows Quid me anxia?

    Just the fact that we women, who are strangers to each other, are able and WILLING to communicate these feelings is nothing short of a miracle. I am so very grateful.

    If you google 'mitochondrial DNA' you might feel the link among all of us. I feel less alone. We females have had to worry about the same problems for so many centuries, we are all linked.
  14. Marguerite

    Marguerite Active Member

    There can be many reasons why we might feel this way. In autism it's a common feeling. Read Temple Grandin's "An Anthropologist on Mars" where she describes always feeling like she's observing aliens and their behaviour, instead of fellow-humans. She describes it well.

    Steely, you're a twin. That may mean your expectation of other (non-twin) relationships is unreaslistic. Few friendships are ever asclose as your relationship with your twin. Because you had thta relationship from birth, it for you may have defined what friendship should be. And reality just isn't like that.

    I have two sets of twins in my family, I base my observations on them as well as on their other friends. They still have each other to go back to (even when they're fighting) and you don't have that except in your heart. That could be making things harder for you right now - such high standards were set for you, that nothing else can come close.

    Depending on what sort of person you are inside, you may find it difficult to form close friendships, or you may find it easier. Different people... I went through childhood feeling very lonely, I was a child with an adult mind and other children avoided me or thought me weird. I blamed myself, not helped by all these other pewople around me telling me I was strange. I bent overbackwards trying to make friends with kids who frankly I didn't like very much, because I was told that I should have friends.
    I now realise my initial standards, while high, were appropriate. I had friends who were adults, because they treated me with respect and shared my interests. Now as an adult, that isn't so weird. I even have a few friends who are children. I figure for those kids, I am the adult friend that I had when I was a child. As those children grow up, we stay friends.

    Stelly, you have been through a lot of changes in the last year or so. Not only in your life, but in moving around, chaging jobs etc. It takes time to build up a sense of trust in others (and for them to trust us). In that time, we feel more lonely than usual.

    The best you can do is learn to value yourself for who and what you are. The more you don't seem to need friends, the more people will seek you out to be a friend. But if you come across as needy or lonely, you risk being alienated further. It's a crazy world.

    I look around now at the people I know, and although I am not in touch with people from my childhood (apart from two people) I recognise the "type". I live near people who are very like the friends I tried to cultivate who I really didn't like. Now I'm an adult, I understand them better and I can accept them better also. However, I'll never share close confidences with any of them. But no longer will I desperately demean myself to be acceptable to them either. I am who and what I am, at last I value myself for it. And because I no longer try to change myself to be more acceptable, I have become more acceptable, simply by being true to myself.

    I have lived in the same area for decades. Even so, you could count deep, true friends on the fingers of one hand. Beyond this is a larger circle of people who would bring me a cooked meal if I asked (if we needed it), people who would give me a lift in the car, would pick up shopping for me. And for whom I would of course do the same. Beyond that is another circle of people I smile at and chat to when we meet in the street. But deep, close friends I can confide in - maybe two. A meeting of minds is rare. You can't force a relationship to work at that level if it's not meant to be. And very few friendships are meant to work at that level.

    In the meantime - work on getting to know yourself, learning how to be a good friend (and practising it!) and smiling at the world regardless of how you feel. I sometimes like to smile at people I don't know, purely to observe the human reactions (as if I am also an anthropologist on Mars!)

    Hang in there, Steely. Friendship is aa tricky thing to define and to control.

  15. ThreeShadows

    ThreeShadows Quid me anxia?

    Geez, Steely! Was H your twin? I didn't know that! That's HUGE! Is this true?
  16. KTMom91

    KTMom91 Well-Known Member

    Add me to the list. While I was growing up, there was a period of time when we moved every year. I was in three schools during second grade. Add in the fact that my father was a high-powered executive type, who tolerated no dissension in the ranks, and I learned very well and very quickly how to fit in. By high school I was breaking out of those ranks, and after my parents divorced when I was 16, I only adapted when I needed to.

    Now, I fit in when I feel like it, because I really don't care too much what random people think of me. I don't have a lot of friends, my bestest friend and I have been close since 7th grade, and my other bestest friend and I have been close since my senior year of high school. I know people I can hang out with if I choose, and for now, I'm all right with that.
  17. DaisyFace

    DaisyFace Love me...Love me not


    I don't know about you, but speaking for myself--I am just no good at being "fake". And I often question whether so many of these 'friendly people' we see around us actually have a lot of friends, or whether it's just a facade.

    For example, the Facebook, Myspace, Twitter etc etc etc phenomenon has caused people that I haven't spoken to in years to send me an email "inviting" me to join. I never do. Instead, I reply directly to their email that it is wonderful to hear from them! And I ask a series of questions such as How are you? What have you been up to these days? Did you ever marry so-and-so?

    You'd be surprised how many of them NEVER respond to my message....which tells me they are not looking for a "Friendship" in the traditional sense, as much as they are looking for a "Friend" in the new Cyber Sense. As in, Welcome to Facebook--You have 98 "Friends". They are looking for a tally, not a relationship.

    You may not be a loner, you just may not be a phony. And I think a certain amount of "phoniness" is necessary in many of today's social situations.

    by the way--If anyone one here would like an "actual friend"....feel free to PM me any time. I'd love to exchange messages, get to know you, and perhaps develop a real relationship....a friend in the truest sense of the word.

  18. flutterby

    flutterby Fly away!

    I used to worry about this all the time and it would really bother me when I couldn't make connections with people. Or, worse, I would and then they would insist on calling me a couple times a week and wanting to do something. Then I would start to feel smothered.

    Anyone who knows me knows I could easily become a hermit and be quite content.

    But, even though I've always known that, I thought there was something wrong with me and that I needed to have friends because that's what people do. And if I didn't have close friends then there was something wrong with me.

    The interesting thing is, once I became comfortable in my own skin - and comfortable being my true self, a loner - I've somehow managed to attract people who I enjoy being with, but who also understand that I like my space. I've become very comfortable in social situations because I don't have any expectations other than enjoying myself in the moment and then going home to my life.
  19. Steely

    Steely Active Member

    You guys are amazing, and wonderful. Thank each and every one of you for adding validity to my world.

    Flutterby I like your quote
    "I like it here in my own world".

    I did not want to mention H., because I was worried people would think I needed to get over her death and move on. But death is elusive. I can go weeks without grieving, but yet in the last 2 days, she has weighed heavily on my heart. I know I can never replace our connection - but yet - I crave the connectivity that we had. The intimacy. Our spirits were twins. (She was not my actual flesh twin.)

    I think to some extent I am looking to replace the friendship H & I had. But yet - more than that - I have always been this way. I need deep, self reflective, intellectual people in order to connect.

    I know as well that H. died, and Matt moved - and then I moved to a whole new town all within a year. I already had a very small sphere of connectivity in my life - and at present - they are all gone. I know I have to forge a new world of connectivity - which is perhaps why this seems like a bigger issue than it ever has been. (Thank god for my 3 dogs. They are my refuge, those little buggers.)
  20. Abbey

    Abbey Spork Queen

    Dogs are the best therapy. My neighbor's dog, Trey is such a hoot. He sits at the end of a very long tether and just watches my back door. It's 5am...he's just staring. I always bring him a small rawhide treat and he knows he can't jump or get up in order to get the treat. He's learning, but surely a difficult child dog. It just puts a nice smile on my face so early in the day.

    As far as internet friends, without a doubt they've been some of the best I've had in my life. Some I've never physically met, but it doesn't matter. guys are 'imaginery.' ;)

    I did finally break down and do the Facebook thingy. I have been pleasantly surprised. People from 30 years ago have shaken that HS mentality and actually become someone you'd enjoy a conversation with. I don't see it as people trying to appear to be important by the number of 'friends' they have...just people reaching out. There is this one girl who asked me to be a friend...ok, I did. She says, "You know, I always hated you. You were weird." Yeppers...some things don't change. We had a good chuckle and correspond quite often now.