As a kid, I was considered a "loner." Most people assumed I liked it that way, but in reality, I hated it.
More than anything, I wanted to be acknowledged, accepted and heard.
Ever since I moved to Texas before kindergarten, I was automatically the outcast in almost every situation: school, gymnastics, piano, friend playdates, etc.
Nowadays, I am the definition of extroverted: talkative, friendly and always looking for opportunities to create new relationships. However, as a child, "shy" was the first word people used to describe me.
I now realize that I was never shy by nature. The other kids didn't want to talk to me, so by default, I kept to myself.
I was always picked last for teams, if I was lucky to be picked at all. The other kids would never acknowledge me, and if they did, it was only to belittle me or tell me what I did wrong.
If I tried to integrate myself with the other kids, they would just as quickly exclude me.
In middle school, it only got worse. I had literally no friends.
The only "friends" I had included me as little as possible, only acknowledging me if they wanted something. I was never invited to the group hangouts, but I was forced to hear about them the next day.
I had to pretend that it didn't sting like Hades.
Groupwork was my worst nightmare for reasons one might not assume.
Hearing that we got to choose our own groups would make my anxiety soar as I knew that I would end up working alone as usual.
The teachers would ask me why I was working alone, and I would always tell them that I didn't want to work in a group, when all I wanted was for someone to say, "Hey Sarah, come work with us!" That never happened.
I never understood why.
What didn't you like about me? Was it my glasses? Was it my freckles?
Did you not like my clothes?
Did my shyness offend you? Did you not like how talkative I became once I was comfortable?
Did you not like my taste in music and TV?
Was it my body type? Was I too fat for you?
What did I do wrong?
Once I got to college, everything changed for the better. I've been given the absolute best friends that I could ever ask for. They love, support and encourage me in ways I had never experienced before. I could not ask for better friends than the ones I have now.
Looking back on all of the terrible childhood experiences I had made me realize something:
I was never the wrong person. I was surrounded by the wrong people.
The people we surround ourselves with contribute to our self-image and overall well-being. Always remember to surround yourself with those that make you feel at peace.
For every person that doesn't like you, there will be a hundred people that love you. Focus on them; they make all of the bad experiences irrelevant.