With Friends Like These…


I’ve never been the most popular person around. For my whole life, I’ve had to get used to being the person from an odd-numbered group who has to sit on their own on the bus, or the one people forget to invite to places. I’m the one who gets edged out when someone new and more interesting comes along. The one who’s only part of the group because they just won’t stop turning up places.

In the few years I’ve been living in Lancaster, there have been a few occasions where I’ve mistakenly assumed that this effect has worn off and that I have settled into a group. With the people at Archery, it became obvious very quickly when I was no longer welcome around, though the only thing I’d done was fallen in love with the president of the society and the captain’s best friend.

Possibly one of the most hostile and difficult situations I’ve ever been in; the overnight stay in Chester will remain vividly etched in my mind as one of the worst weekends of my life. When the aforementioned man and myself ended our relationship, there was no longer any question of me being able to shoot – my bow proved to quickly become a three hundred pound paperweight.

Luckily for me, not all of my forays into pre-established friendship groups proved so harmful to my mental health; my attendance at RocSoc was simply not high enough to become firmly established in that social group. I know the people, and they know me, but aside for a couple of exceptions we’re never going to be bosom-buddies. Less intimacy and attachment; less eventual pain.

The place I really did think I’d stick, however, was LURPS. Lancaster university role-playing society. Full of people who were teased in school and consider themselves to be socially ‘different from the norm’. Even I couldn’t be considered annoying or weird compared to some of these guys, right?

For a while, I was so enamoured by everyone in LURPS that I found it hard to settle into a particular group. Before too long though, I gathered a few people I was particularly interested and amused by, people I thought I could trust and enjoy the company of, and we became a group, a brigade even. A core group of six with some peripheral people, and I felt like I’d found my own version of the Friends cast, people who I’d continue to be friends with through my twenties and beyond.

Despite some hiccups, such as Dan leaving Lancaster (if you’re reading this, Dan, we miss you!), we’re still here three years on. Three years of trying and testing each other, laughing, crying, and loving together, and I thought that I’d finally be able to tick ‘lifetime friends’ off my list of things I need for a satisfactory life.

It seems though, that life thought I needed another false start, another lesson learned. To offset the balance of a social group is a very easy thing, especially when the group contains someone such as me, who is so easily displaced from their comfort zone. I fill a particular role in the group – I am the only girl, the main ear that gets confided in, the funny, cute girl who messes about and kicks butt in Team Fortress 2. I also take a lot of maintenance as a friend, something I know and am trying hard to work on. I am almost obsessively sociable; even when I’m feeling anti-social or ill I want there to be people around me, so I can listen to them talk and know that I’m not alone when I’m feeling at my worst.

For three years, I have been able to have all the support that I need from this group of friends, and from Sam more than most. He and I are ‘best’ friends, and despite several ups and downs between us, I thought that wasn’t going to change, at least not while we continue to house share.

Now though, there’s someone else. A girl I can’t even bring myself to have any hostile feelings towards; she and I have always been towards the ‘friends’ end of the acquaintance scale, and from what I can tell she is a lovely, interesting, funny, pretty, gamer girl.

For almost the whole time he’s known her, Sam has been interested in her, and I can’t blame him. Nothing ever came of it though, because she has had a boyfriend since before Sam ever met her. Nevertheless, his interest never waned; he just supressed it. Until recently. I don’t want to air out exactly what’s happening between them, so what it comes down to is that she has very quickly become a close friend to Sam.

I had no worry when Sam was pursuing her as a romantic interest; in fact I was all for it – Sam is a great guy and deserves to find a girl who’ll make him happy and put up with how stubborn he is. Now that it has emerged that they aren’t going to be entering into a romantic relationship, I am fighting a losing battle for the position of Sam’s best friend. Why would he want to keep me when he could have someone who is just a vastly improved version of me? The signs are already beginning to show; Sam and I have spent very little time together just hanging out recently. He’s been busy, or there have been other more interesting people around. Sam’s always had the time for her though.

Most of my group of friends already consider her to be a friend, too, so it’s only a matter of time before I’m left at the starting post without them all, because again, who’d keep me around when she’s a prettier, funnier, more interesting and intelligent version of me with less neuroses for them to worry about? From there, it’s only a short step before they stop inviting me along to the race at all.

 

PS. I know that you’re all entitled to freedom of speech and can say whatever you want about it, but before you post about how selfish and whinghy I sound in this post, please have a little bit of sympathy for the girl who’s missing her best friend and scared of being replaced by someone far superior.

 

PPS. The main body of this post (that is, not counting the two post-scripts) totals 1000 words exactly. Random round numbers like that give me a little bit of a thrill.

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9 thoughts on “With Friends Like These…

  1. I understand those emotions well, the feeling of being… an after thought, a tagger-along. The feeling of being replaced… easily replaced at that – as though the people around you merely tolerate you. Just yesterday, I met a large group of who I had considered my closest friends not 2 years ago… the conversation was brief, and strained; it was full of awkwardness. I’ve often wondered how easily replaceable I am to most people – a figure in the crowd, a background player even within the story of my own life, or so it feels at times. I remember when someone, who’s now one of my best friends, joined onto the aforementioned group… I was uneasy… had my replacement arrived so soon? Yes, we were different, but when you feel like one of the stupider ones in your group, it’s hard not to feel inferior to others.

    Now I feel myself becoming replaced in a different group of friends. I suppose at least this time, it’s taking multiple people… there’s one who’s replaced me as the nicest person most people know. There’s another one or two attempting to take my place as the craziest dancer. I long ago gave up my post as one of the heavier drinkers (about the time when I realised I didn’t need to be THAT drunk to dance, haha).

    I guess maybe it’s almost a positive thing – as you gain more experiences in life, even if they seem inconsequential on their own, each new thread weaves the rich tapestry that is you… with each new quirk and experience, you become… less easily replaceable; it requires more people to make you obsolete completely. Perhaps. I’m not sure, haha – I suppose whether or not I believe that depends on my mood at the time.

    At the same time, I worry about other things (to be fair, I worry about A LOT. Far too much even, but that’s not really relevent now). I worry that, perhaps if I finally find a girl who can accept me, if I’m not as I often worry ‘fundamentally unloveable’, then what becomes of those I’m close to now? I mean, I have all my free time to spend with my housemate right now, she’s my best friend really. But… should I somehow find myself in a relationship with someone else… it’s not that I wouldn’t have time for her anymore, far from it, but… I still worry about whether that would be a betrayal – sad, isn’t it? Thereagain, I’ve always had a rather inflated sense of duty and loyalty, often to detrimental effect to myself.

    (Ah well, even if you figure out who I am, please don’t mention this, haha. For what it’s worth, I’ve never personally found you to be annoying, and ‘weird’ is such a subjective term that when people throw it around, I prefer to challenge them to find someone ‘normal’ 😛 )

    • Thanks – it really is reassuring to know I’m not entierly alone in this.
      Don’t worry about me working out who you are – I am particularly bad at identifying people without any specific details to go on.

      • Glad to hear it 🙂

        (On both fronts 😄 )

        Something else to note – my housemate also suffers from this, somehow – she’s one of the nicest, friendliest people you’ll ever meet, everyone tells her she’s amazing all the time, stuff like that… but as soon as she’s more than a 5 minute walk away, it’s like they forget about her, she’s always the one that has to make the effort to see them, even when they’re in the same place, they never remember to invite her out with them, so… even she feels like that sometimes… I wonder whether perhaps everyone does, sometimes?

        (And that’s before you even get started on all the guys that’ve messed around with her, mostly again by telling her how amazing and incredible she is, and then just… leaving her hanging, assuming that she can change her plans for them… pisses me right off, I can tell you, haha… (*sigh*) )

        I guess the moral is that people are a strange bunch ;-P though as DB states below, often you’ll find reconnecting with people is easier than you imagined, given the opportunity 🙂

      • I understand that too, the feeling of being the one who has to arrange things. I’ve noticed that less over the last couple of years, which is good because depression and anxiety don’t lend themselves well to contacting people out of the blue to arrange things. There are a lot of worries and paranoias around that area. But in the past, certainly.

        Having had time to mull over your previous comment further, I’d like to register my surprise at just how familiar what you’ve said seems to me. It feels as though I could have written that comment myself – if it wasn’t so much better written than my own stuff! Maybe my crazy worries and freak-outs aren’t as crazy as I thought.

        As an aside, as someone who likes to leave no stone unturned and to know everything going on around me, your anonymity (I think that’s a word, even if I have probably butchered the spelling) is proving to be far more thought provoking than I’d like. Rest assured that I’m not exactly close to working it out – all I can deduce is that you’re probably male.

      • It puts rather a strain on things, doesn’t it? I’ve rarely noticed it with friends, but I remember the feeling well from when I had an online girlfriend. Sometimes, things like that can become strained to breaking point. Ah well, even after everything that happened there, I’m still good friends with her at least, so that’s good, haha 🙂

        They most certainly are not so crazy as you believe… I remember learning that lesson years ago… it’s odd – the more people you talk to about it, the more you realise just how much is really going on behind the scenes, behind closed doors and in other people’s minds. Most people that know my housemate would describe her as being confident and outgoing, and much to my surprise, many people also classify me as such… the first time someone called me confident, I was completely taken aback – it seemed such a strange notion to me, haha. I guess what I mean is… a lot of the time, you can feel isolated… more than that, you can isolate yourself within your own mind, without even truly realising it… the truth is that most people feel those things, even if they’re less open about it 🙂

        http://www.viruscomix.com/page528.html

        Kinda like that, I guess 🙂

        Heh, it is indeed a word, and the spelling is correct 🙂 (If in doubt, I tend to google, haha 🙂 ) While I feel more comfortable talking about this without being known, if you really want to know, I suppose I could send you a message of some sort (it’s mostly that I don’t want these thoughts generally ‘out’ there for the most part, haha, something I must admit I have some admiration for you for doing so, by the by 🙂 )

      • Actually, the reason I blog (or part of it) is because it’s almost a way of reaching out to people for support and reassurance. I take the risk of being honest and open in a public forum in exchange for, as I said, reassurance that I’m not going through something totally strange and unique – that others have these doubts and fears too. Actually, after I’d been publicly blogging for a year, I wrote a blog post about why – here if you’re interested. You can also subscribe to this blog if you like – you can get all my posts by email (and probably RSS but I’ve never checked). There’s a button on the main page, so feel free. Or don’t – your choice!

        The way we percieve ourselves and the way others perceive us can often have huge and surprising discrepancies. Human psychology is facinating and complex and I wish I knew more about it.

        As for your identity, keep it for now – makes things more interesting that way 😉

  2. You are not alone. I moved only 2.5hrs away and ended up feeling like my best friend/soulmate replaced me with work/other people/boyfriend.

    What I have found though is that every time I head back to Lancaster we slip back into conversation like I’ve never left.

    Each time I see people I’ve not seen in ages there is usually a squeel and a hug.

    You are an awesome person and can never be replaced. I think sometimes the problem is figuring out where you fit into a particular group of people and what role you take.

    *huggles and love*

    xx

  3. Whilst people can be more skilled than others, or more intelligent or “better” in whichever way you choose to calculate someone’s worth, no-one can be better than someone else as a friend. Friends are not chosen on skill, wit or looks, but for their own unique viewpoints. Hence provided you remain true to yourself no-one can replace you as a friend and reunions are easier.

    Of course, feeling less welcome in a group can be a bad thing. But only if you actually are, these things are always best spoken about with them than losing sleep over.

  4. Feeling like you’re less a part of a group can feel bad, heck I’ve lived on the periphery of groups for practically my entire life, at the end of the day though, people don’t normally think and that’s where these problems (ie bad feelings) arise (and it really does sound like there’s no bad intent here on the part of any party). Understand though that you’re awesome and no one can replace you, even if you think the girl holds many of personality traits you hold, there are still so many things that differ and so many past times and experiences that you share with your friends that no one can ever replace. Plus you’re awesome . People certainly think well of you and if you ever have some free time and want to hang out then feel free to give me a poke (it always feels like it’s been way too long).

    If you feel like things are slipping between you and Sam there’s always the option of trying to schedule Alice-Sam time so you make sure you keep hanging out or talking with him about the situation. Then again sometimes it can feel like you’re making all the effort, so I don’t know the solution, maybe it comes down to letting the other person know you want them to make more effort. I hope this semi-coherent rambling helps in some way, just some observations.

    Hope things work out.

    (also it really doesn’t sound whiney or selfish, nothing wrong with being upset about feeling ostracized, it happens to a lot of people, but (and whilst I’ve not talked to every out there) I’ve not heard a bad thing said about you, in fact quite the contrary)

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