This week I’ve been reflecting on a pattern that keeps recurring in many of my friendships and romantic connections; I keep trying to win the affections of those who don’t value me. In the past, a number of romantic endeavors ended with me on the outskirts of a social group.
In fifth grade, the “popular” kids accepted me for about two weeks when I was “going out with” a boy named Jeff who had won his way into the exclusive circle. I felt powerful for the first time! One day clique-leader Tiffany* volunteered to help our teacher hand out papers in class. As she slid the sheet in front of me she delivered the news from Jeff, “You’re dumped.” I was no longer welcome at their lunch table.
The summer between my freshman and sophomore years of college, I met a charming man for lunch. His girlfriend was an acquaintance and we shared a lot of mutual friends in a tight-knit amateur actor community. He and I had dramatic flirting sessions over email prior to our non-date that ended with a kiss that he stopped before it happened. When his girlfriend found out we met up, an emotional hell broke loose and I found myself apprehensively and awkwardly attending the group outings for which I hadn’t not received an invitation.
Also around that time, my feelings of betrayal toward an ex-boyfriend who I felt had manipulated me into fooling around with him, having secretly been naked with someone who called herself my friend, kept me from participating in a service fraternity that I had invested a lot of time into pledging.
So when I ended a relationship with an emotionally abusive ex whom I refer to as DM, it was just my usual that (what felt like) everyone we hung out with was suddenly Team DM. I was yet again on the outside of a social circle in which I had invested a lot of time. DM was free to paint everyone’s opinion of me by telling his side of our breakup which I’m sure he twisted to make me look like a horrible person. I had just moved out into a place of my own, trying my best to recover from a traumatic relationship with (what felt like) no community.
Today I learned that what felt like the worst situation ever is beginning to untangle itself two years later. A highly influential member of Team DM has changed her stance on him and is beginning to see him for the manipulative person he is. I learned that she also mentioned me by name when she was considering the inconsistencies between my stories and his. I felt elated to learn that patience to the tune of 24 months paid off further than my initial pleas to be heard.
It may take time.
It WILL take time. But the situations that seem like the biggest tragedies now, I will eventually just shrug right off. Who really cares what someone else thinks of me? There are more friends to be made, more guys to date, more adventures, more artistic endeavors and passions to be explored! I don’t need everyone to like me. I don’t need everyone to be on my side in order to have an amazing life!
This gives me encouragement within the wraps of my current drama. I may be toiling through the emotions but I have hope that on the other end of this I will find myself unaffected by someone’s reaction or lack of reaction to me. I will have made a life for myself that does not depend on the acceptance of another person who, in the long run, does not have much say in my life.
You Deserve Good Things,
*Names have been changed of course.