When I was growing up, I didn't have many friends.
In fact, I can count them on one hand alone.
I didn't choose to live this lonely life, in fact, it's not what I wanted at all. My loneliness was forced upon me by my classmates because I was different. I didn't conform to their idea of what "normal" was and was, of course, ostracized for it. My bullies tormented me relentlessly, school became a place of terror for me. My anxiety would spike the moment I got on the bus in the morning and wouldn't relax until I got off in the afternoon. I used to beg my parents to talk to anyone who might help but, of course, adults at school really do nothing to stop bullying. My most formative years were spent alone all because I chose to stand out from the crowd.
As I got older, I was able to make more friends and leave my bullied past behind. However, some of those anxieties still linger it comes to the friends I have now.
I constantly worry that I'm bothering them or that they're simply friends with me out of pity. I am constantly worrying about what they really think about me and what they say when I'm not around. When they invite me out, I believe it's because they didn't want to feel bad about not inviting me. There's always this little voice in the back of my head saying that I'm not good enough to be friends with these people or that I'm "too weird" or "too annoying" to be taken seriously by them. After every interaction I have with my friends, I am constantly analyzing everything I said, hoping that I didn't come off as weird or annoying.
While I know that my friends love me and want me around, it's so hard to do away with the thoughts that go through my head whenever I'm around them. It's so hard to enjoy your friends when you're constantly worrying that they'll drop you at a moment's notice or completely turn on you (trust me, it's happened to me multiple times). Now, these thoughts don't always rear their ugly head into my life, but when it does flare up, it's like I almost self-destruct.
But, I don't want to make this article a total pity party. What's important is that I surround myself with good friends who truly value me and respect me. I wouldn't trade the friends I've made in school (and back home) for anything in the world. I know that they'll always have my back, and I'll have theirs.
So, yeah: the voices in my head are no match for the power of friendship.