Monday, September 10, 2012

The lucky chums

I don't know how, but somehow throughout my life I've never been one to feel like an odd commodity in society. In every school setting, every club, every awkward and new adventure, I've always found like-minded people who I can be friends with and who can appreciate my personality for what it is, eccentricities and all.

While I'm not flabbergasted by my luck, seeing as I've always considered myself a fairly amiable person when meeting new people, it does confuse me a bit that despite my relative difference from the mainstream of society (once I hit sixth grade or so, this became quite apparent), I've always been able to find cliques into which I fit incredibly comfortably.

It's hard to find people to accept you in general, but to find people who ultimately have the same ideas of fun and who possess similar goals and values in life is a shot in the dark that I'm sure a lot of people miss.

Every step of the way I've developed a healthy sense of hesitation. I know that if I grow too complacent then I will always assume that I'll magically discover individuals whose personalities coalesce with mine easily, and it is when I assume that that I will probably not find anyone and end up feeling lonely. Therefore, instead of becoming complacent, I've always made it a point to take myself out of my comfort zone when I'm facing new terrain and new potential companions.

When I got to college for my freshman year, I was reeling with anticipation over all the people I'd meet when I got to my dorm. We'd established a Facebook group before we arrived on campus which had confirmed that many of the people who lived in this place were self-proclaimed nerds. It soothed my concerns, slightly, but not wholly. Even though I've always considered myself a pretty geeky individual, even those cliques have not always been the ones to invite me in with open arms.

In high school one of my best friends was always in the most advanced math and science classes. She was close friends with our valedictorian and salutatorians. Though I knew two of the highest achievers of my school pretty well myself (and one of them only slightly), I could only have called one of them my friend because the other two didn't mesh well with me or the rest of my group. It was just how the clique system in high school worked, I guess.

These things carried over in college, though. And despite feeling very much "at home" in my dorm for the last two years, I was only blessed with that happiness because I'd established friendships with several people in my midst who were comparable to me in temperament and interests. Without those friends who have stuck by me, it is doubtful that I would have had half the wonderful experience I did in my dorm. Though I still believe that most of the individuals I met (even those who I couldn't call 'friends') were great in their own right, in the case of someone like me who is not simply loved by all, it is necessary to fit into a niche. Otherwise, there's always the chance of not fitting in at all.

In a week I'll be headed to London. By the time I board that plane, I will have relinquished all control to my nerves again, just like in freshman year of college. Within my first few days I will risk my own comfort and sanity in trying to find new people to meet and get along with, and it is likely I won't get to know them fully until several weeks in when cliques have already been formed.

It's kind of a scary prospect, when you're like me and much of your experience with friendships has just been due to the sheer luck of meeting the right people at the right time. Change one or two things from my first year of college and I wouldn't have found just the right fit for myself in a group of friends.

When I get to that foreign country and I settle down at my dorm for the first night, I hope that I feel just enough anxiety to get me to socialize. Even if it means finding friends whose ideas of fun don't exactly coincide with mine, at the very least I'll have made an effort. With effort comes success, I guess. That's how it's worked for me in the past. And if I want it to work anywhere, I want it to work in London.

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