Writing by Freya Bennett // Photograph by Ramona Langner
I’ve always felt a little bit on the outside. I’m not sure where this comes from exactly but perhaps it’s from being an only child from a single parent family. Being an introverted, sensitive kid, I happily spent my days listening to story tapes, reading books, and drawing. This in turn gave me a lot of time to think about myself, the world, other people and my interactions with them.
Whether it was at school or with relatives other than my mum, I was always the one on the edge, observing everyone else, and when I did participate, it was almost like I was watching myself from the outside and judging the interactions I was having.
I kind of thought that everyone experienced childhood the way I did, I thought every kid thought through every process and over-analyzed every situation. Like the time a little girl stuck her tongue out at me when I was shopping with my mum; it was with a heavy heart I returned the gesture, wisely thinking this was the only way; it was a dog-eat-dog world out there.
As an adult, I have chosen certain careers and pathways that give me a lot of time at home. This is good in some ways, but it definitely has it’s down sides. For instance, I still very much feel on the outside of the general public. When I go into the city, while I love the buzz and the creativity I feel, I can’t help but think I am missing out on something. I see people rushing to their offices, or chatting with their co-workers and I think, I haven’t really started life yet.
When I am at a party or a get together, no matter how many close friends are there and although I am having fun, I am always watching and observing.
‘How can I have a conversation like that?’
‘How come they are so comfortable talking together?’
‘I hope what I said earlier made sense!’
And of course all this also means I have a certain amount of social anxiety. I have anxiety in general, so it’s going to spread across aspects of my life in some way. But to me, it’s more than just worrying about how others view me. It’s a feeling deep down that I am watching everyone from outside a window. Or observing the world like it’s a tv show.
Although I haven’t fully grown out of this feeling, I definitely know how to handle it a lot better than when I was younger. I remind myself that the whole world isn’t having a blast without me (and if they are, good for them, everyone deserves fun and happiness). Everyone is walking through their own battles and no one has time to think about keeping me on the outside. I also remind myself that I create my reality and if I need to feel more included, I could go out and get a 9-5 job, I could go partying every weekend, I could join clubs and societies. But I know this is the life for me, it’s just a matter of being content with my choices.
I am still learning how to harness that feeling and turn it into something good. Something creative and warm instead of the cold, green, heavy feeling I get when I am left outside. I haven’t reached it yet, but I know it’s somewhere there. It’s somewhere in the music, when I eventually sit down at the piano. It’s somewhere in my paints as I look calmly at a blank piece of paper. It’s in the trees as they gently sway above me and it’s in the salt water as it hugs my body close.
We all have the ability to help ourselves feel content with our life and our choices, we just have to find out what helps and what hinders.[share]