I’ve never been a popular kid. I’ve always had my crowd, generally the other misfits and outsiders, but I’ve always been part of the fringe even in those groups. Part of this is because I prefer smaller gatherings, more intense friendships, and dislike larger crowds of people. Part of it is because I always feel like the outsider or interloper, like everyone else is better friends and I can’t quite figure out how to inject myself into the group.
In college, I mistook being smart for popularity. I was thrilled to be included. Until I realized that my inclusion was limited to study sessions. In grad school, I built my circles away from the school, using my church instead. That was still fraught with these dynamics of bffs and frenemies, dynamics that I thought were supposed to fade, with highschool letterman jackets, into obscurity.
Post school phase, I moved to my friends. I buried myself in work and had a few, very reliable friends. People who enjoyed getting together 2-3 nights a week, because no one wanted to be alone. Leaving those circles was the hardest part of moving across the country for B.
Even in Germany, we were on the fringe, but we had the same solid core. There was a tight group of us that were always together, even if it was just sitting around and playing rock band. And people showed up when they said they would.
Turkey has been the toughest place for making friends of my life. When we first got here, I wouldn’t tell anyone B’s rank, I was vague about what he did, all of it, so as to not have it factor into my friendships. Unfortunately, after his rank was known, I quit being invited to join these women for things. I’ve tried to make good friends, because those are the only friends that I want to have, but it hasn’t been easy.
I try to be the type of friend that I want to have. I’m upfront about availability. If I say I’m going to show up, I show up and on time. I reach out regularly. Unfortunately, it hasn’t panned out for me here. So I’ll just keep doing the only thing I know to do, be myself and keep trying. One day it will work out.