I am always second place, always almost good enough, always the leftover.
Seventh grade, science class. It was the honors class so a good portion of my friends were in the class. And while I wasn’t Miss Popularity, I was never Miss Unpopular either; I had more than enough friends, really I did. And because of the whole “honors student” thing, there were always a lot of us in the same classes. So if I had to guess I’d say that I probably had at least five or six friends in that science class seventh grade. (Five or six friends in one science class! I can barely claim that many friends the world over nowadays!) Yet when we paired up with lab partners who was the last one?
I was friends with so many, but not good enough friends that they wouldn’t pick someone else over me. In the end I wound up with Molly because the majority of her friends were in other classes and she had a little bit of the same Second Place Syndrome that I do.
In eighth grade science it was the same thing. Except in that class we had an odd number of students so since I was literally the last one without a partner, our teacher made the girl who was his assistant that period, but not really part of our class, be my partner for the frog dissection.
Because nobody wanted me as a partner more than they wanted someone else as a partner.
And weirdly, sadly, this seems to be a pattern for my life. I feel like I always care about others more than they care about me, like if everyone in the world made a list of the ten friends who matter most to them my friends would always be higher up on my list than I would be on theirs. Like I have stories about everyone else while their stories are always of others. I realize this is a very pathetic way to think, but sometimes I get to thinking it and wondering: do I really care about others more than they care about me (and if so, why?), or is it just like I’ve been told once or twice before: that I don’t see myself the way others do, that I see myself as more of a loser than I am.
Is this feeling a reality or is it a product of my jealousies?
And why do I struggle so much with jealousy; could it be that I’m still trying to build my confidence back up to that glorious level I remember it being back when I was fourteen? Because really, I thought I was doing good but the smallest things will bring me down a few notches.
Moving was the first confidence sinker. I was different from the other girls in every superficial way possible and it did bother me. I looked twelve when they looked seventeen; I was into (and am into) books while they were into fashion. I had been listening to Alan Jackson when I was younger while they had been listening to the Spice Girls. (Really? People really listened to the Spice Girls? Even now I find it hard to believe.)
The sleepover was the second confidence sinker. Yes, Jordyn, wear your blue jeans and your western looking blouse and your not-old-but-not-new sneakers with your frizzy dark hair; I’m sure you’ll fit right in. (The theory that if you’re happy with yourself it can’t bother you when you stick out like a sore thumb is a LIE, folks. It still hurts.) Dancing to the Spice Girls, being ignored by nearly everyone, and feeling so out of place when we wandered around the mall were marks of a torturous night. One girl’s mom actually CAME AND APOLOGIZED TO ME FOR “THROWING ME INTO THE LIONS’ DEN” AS SHE SO KINDLY PUT IT.
Too much friendlessness was the third confidence sinker. Realizing my old friends were going on without me; losing friends and not being able to gain any new ones, having all my attempts knocked down, feeling so out of it. Not fun, friendlies, NOT FUN. And the worst part was feeling like it was all my fault, like if I had just been more interested in what the other girls were interested in, more aware of things like the Spice Girls, more outgoing, more pretty, then I would have had friends. The sad thing is that I still believe that. If I had came out of Arizona and been my sister at fifteen instead of ME AT FIFTEEN I’m sure I would have had friends.
The fourth confidence sinker involved a crush on a boy that did not go so well and thinking that even when I felt like I was getting along with someone here, I really wasn’t, and like I was so incredibly stupid for liking him. Mostly though, what it involved was losing someone I had considered something of a friend even back when I thought I would never have another friend again, someone I felt comfortable around.
The fifth confidence sinker was four months of nothing but drama, being a naive girl who didn’t realize EVERYTHING SHE WAS DOING was just a magnet for petty drama. Feeling even more people slipping away from me, alienated, after I thought there was no one left to alienate even if I had wanted to. It was thinking, oh no, this is my life now; I’m that girl who has no steady friends, that girl who keeps pushing people away and she’s not even sure how to stop it.
And life goes on.
Eventually moving to a different state should become a hazy memory,
a sleepover is forgotten by everyone except the girl it was awful for,
prolonged friendlessness becomes such a state of being that your bestie (who lives too, too far away) points out that maybe you’ve been without friends so long that you’ve begun to accept it as being your life and maybe that’s not such a good thing,
the heartbreak becomes a thing of the past, so far back it feels stupid to even be able to remember,
and the drama becomes something disgusting to think about.
And I should be good as gold, brand new, well, because none of the above should matter in the least and I hate to admit that while the actual events don’t really matter anymore, the feelings they produced still do. The doubts, fears, insecurities, sadnesses, and anger still linger. They still have the power to make me less than the girl I am, still have the power to make me forget how amazing my life is as a whole; how incredible my friends are (in spite of the fact that 96% are so far away), how lucky I am (to even be alive), how many things make me smile every day.
Mostly they still have the power - much as I hate it - to make me feel less than. Jealous, insecure, unsure, weary and tired; to make me feel not myself, like I’m going to be stuck in second place forever.
* Note: I have debated myself as to whether or not to put some of these things in here, especially seeing as how I know some of my readers are people who KNOW EXACTLY WHAT I’M REFERRING TO (and should feel free to comment - hopefully I did not offend), but in the end personal expression won out, so here it is.
**Note for Redthebook: I wrote this last night on wordpress and am just now getting around to posting it here.