From The Outsider Looking In
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From The Outsider Looking In

Trust me, it's not so great in there.

From The Outsider Looking In
All Business

The "inner circle" has been glorified since the beginning of time...or at least since the hit-musical Grease brought together the infamous T-Birds and Pink Ladies. The inner circle is that group--that group of friends that somehow has nothing else to do except hang out with each other all day, lounging on lawns and exchanging endless inside jokes.

I’m not just talking about the popular crowd, though. I’m talking about all the images of tight-knit, idealized friendships that have ever been shoved down our throats, from The Breakfast Club’s ragtag group of detained juveniles, to Sex and the City’s creation of the four trendiest women to probably ever hit my television screen. Time and time again, I’ve witnessed daring escapades and unparalleled bonding experiences at the hands of The Sandlot boys, American Pie crew and many more.

Well, guess what. I have a little secret to tell you, a little intel that just may threaten society’s foundation as we know it.


I’m the girl who grew up exchanging books with my middle school English teachers during break and eating most of my high school lunches sitting on the floor of the locker hallways. Which, in retrospect, is completely okay with me...but spending most of my adolescent life feeling somewhat isolated from the rest of my peers also meant a continuous craving to one day know what it was like to have a group to call my own. The idea of being in the inner circle tantalized me endlessly.

I ended up graduating early and following my older, college-boyfriend off to his school. The larger story there is for another time, but plays an important role in what my following social life consisted of. All my college friends ended up being his friends...who were his age...and his gender...and ultimately just, his. They included me in everything they did and I went everywhere they went, but it felt more like I was standing in the shadow of somebody else’s inner circle, you know? That’s why, once I eventually transferred to a new school, I made it a goal of mine to finally find my own group, my own people.

And I did. And it was great. At first.

I quickly found out I'm not much of a "group" person.

Here’s what all those movies seemed to get right, and what I will personally attest to being pretty great: There’s always something going on. There’s always somebody to eat with, to study with. There’s always somebody to talk to, somebody with new stories. There’s always some place to be, and somebody to be there with. The opportunities for social interaction are definitely anything but scarce.

Unfortunately, the behind-the-scenes tour wasn’t as intriguing. Here’s a little sneak peak into what that looked like:

1. The whole group dynamic is incredibly superficial. Yes, there are definitely plenty of bonding moments and inside jokes that kept us stuck together, but I never felt like I really got to know anybody. Even worse, I knew for a fact that nobody was getting to know me. How could they? How well can you really get to know people at fraternity parties or in a packed study room? I like getting to know people one-on-one, and I function better that way too. In groups, I shy away. I withdraw and quickly become a shadow. This is really because I get very nervous and self-conscious. Unfortunately, that’s not how other people see it. They often take it negatively as if I’m indifferent or rude, and I find myself on the outskirts for this reason.

2. Second, there is an EXTREME lack of privacy. You see, this is a problem for me because there is little else I love more than my privacy. All of a sudden, I had people tracking my location, asking what I was doing, and who I was doing it with. If I texted one person more than another, they knew. If I didn’t respond to one person’s calls but answered another’s, they knew. If I spent the night at somebody’s house, they knew. My life was suddenly under a microscope and I hated it. I immediately withdrew and, while in reality I was usually just at home watching Netflix, I stopped sharing my location and avoiding their prying questions. And if they kept asking, I would just lie, because my life is nobody else’s business. To the group, this was “shady” and “suspicious,” which of course only prompted more attention on myself.

3. This attention very quickly turned to unsolicited judgement and brash assumptions. Because I didn’t function well at the group level and became very private about my life, they simply took the opportunity to fill in the blanks themselves. My life was no longer my own; it became some kind of weird, teenage-soap-opera, madlib concoction. I’m still not entirely convinced that I didn’t enter the twilight zone.

I ended up losing a lot of "friends" who, in reality, were never really friends to begin with. I’m not saying the inner circle is bad, I’m saying that being a part of the outer circle isn’t. Some people may function really well or even need to be surrounded in high-energy environments. I know now that I am not one of those people mainly because I spent almost six months of my life trying to pretend like I was and ending up very hurt in the end. But I wouldn’t take back that time at all because if I didn’t have the experience I did, I might still be feeling left out. If you’re like me, I promise you you’re not missing out on much. As we might try to fit in, some of us are just born to stand out.

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This article has not been reviewed by Odyssey HQ and solely reflects the ideas and opinions of the creator.

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