When I was little, I remember thinking that all of the best friends in the world were already taken. The second I would consider someone my closest pal, they would refer to someone else as their best friend and it would break my heart. I never could figure out why no one wanted to give me that label when I yearned for it so greatly. I know this probably was a silly thought, but it's something I've always found myself thinking about even after I got older.

Although I have been blessed with the chance to jump friend groups throughout my first twenty years, I always would find myself slipping into the same role in each one. The one taking the pictures, the odd one out in a large group of people, the one awkwardly chipping into conversations, and most importantly, the one who was always the punch line of the joke. No matter how hard I tried to fit in and not fall into these roles again, I always found myself in the same place as before.

In all honesty, it's a really defeating feeling. All I ever wanted was to fit in perfectly the way everyone else did with each other. Why couldn't one person consider me their best friend, or why did I feel like I would never fit in anywhere, no matter how many friend groups I had been considered in?

Because of this, I've found myself in a bad headspace the last few years when it's come to social situations. I've denied invitations to hangout and opted to stay home, only to sulk instead. I've lied to get out of going to different events because I was too afraid of what or who I would find there. I knew this was only hurting me more, but there was no way I wanted to knowingly put myself in a spot where I would leave feeling more down than lifted up.

Even though there have been times where I have felt completely alone, I know I'm not the only one who feels like this. There's always going to be someone on the outside of a group even though they don't deserve it. It's not a uncommon occurrence, especially in the middle of growing up. And despite feeling all of this, I do love the people I've befriended over the years. I would gladly do anything for them, even if it's not reciprocated all of the time. It's just naturally who I am, and I am proud of myself in that aspect.

However, I do know what I deserve. I deserve friends who don't naturally push me out and invite me to be in their pictures. I don't deserve to be the punch line of any joke, no matter how funny it might be to them. I deserve to be checked in on, included, loved openly and loved hard. Today is the first day where I don't accept anything less than what I deserve to receive.

Most importantly, to those who feel the same, just know that you're not alone. There are so many of us who have fallen into this situation, and it's not anything we deserve. Every single person in the world deserves a support group who loves you unconditionally, no matter who you are. You will find your place and people. In the meantime, stay true to who you are. You are a gift, and those who deserve you will recognize that.

Never, ever, lose sight of your worth.