Alone in a Crowded Room.


Things can seem so wonderful.  I relax because I think, for once, I’ve got it all figured out.  I’m in a good place and nothing can hurt me.  It seems like every time I let my guard down, though, something does find a way to wound me.  Does my relaxation invite chaos?  Provide clarity?  Am I letting myself be distracted in some euphoric illusion?

And so I’m already beginning 2014 on the wrong foot.  December brought a lot of rapid change for the better, reversing all of the problems I had in November, and now January has left me completely confused and straddling the last two months.  I mean this figuratively and literally when I describe my situation as:

It’s like I got invited to a really nice party with all the people I wanted to have close to me, I anticipated it for a long time and nearly had a nervous breakdown preparing myself for it, then I got there and had my hopes and dreams dashed.  Every physical ingredient was there: The outfit, the people, the food, the timing…  But I suddenly found myself drowning in that feeling like you’ve walked uninvited into a private, reserved room, one that doesn’t even have a spare chair if you would have been offered one.

Maybe that’s the hardest part about moving.  It’s funny, because I felt more welcomed when I moved to France.  Now that I’ve moved to Ohio, I expect to blend in.  I expect to have a lot in common.   I expect to be accepted.  But then I get in these moments when I feel like an intruder, like I haven’t been a part of their lives long enough for them to ever let me in.  I try to tell myself they’re not doing this on purpose, but that’s really hard to believe when you’re the one all alone in a crowded room.

When I feel like an outcast, I try to step back and sift through how much of it is actually happening and how much of it I’m seeing through my biased, foggy interpretation.  I’m convinced that a lot of it is in my head, that maybe I’m not being forward enough and trying to partake.  But there’s still a large part of me that firmly believes it is not my place as the outsider, the new person, the guest, to welcome them, the locals, the long-standing static pieces of this puzzle.  And I try not to blame them, but it’s a searing pain to sit there in a room and listen to hours and hours about things they’ve all been doing together and plans they’re making that they pointedly leave me out of.  To be there as someone’s date, then to have them joking with him about what ladies he could possibly invite to a wedding.  Or to mention his ex.  I’m not oblivious to these things, do they know that?  Is it intentional?

“It’s all in your head” is the mantra that got me through that party, but it bothered me that people who treated me the best were the ones farthest removed from the central click.  Does that mean I’m picking the wrong crowd?  Should anyone ever feel this way in the company of true friends?  Was it just an awkward situation where my host was out of his element?  Did I behave wrong?

Do not look at anybody in terms of friend or foe, brother or cousin; do not fritter away your mental energies in thoughts of friendship or enmity. Seeking the Self everywhere, be amiable and equal-minded towards all, treating all alike.
-Adi Shankaracharya

I don’t have the answer right now in the midst of my dilemmas, but I like this Hindu quote to remind me that the only thing I can do is be myself and be as fair as possible, that I cannot help how others see or fail to see me, and that whatever will be will be.  That last one is what got me through some of my worst moments in 2011, so I choose to cling to it.

As for those people at the party, I hope I didn’t seem too drab.  It’s just sometimes hard to be when you’re not sure of your role.


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