I’ve become a bit of a shut-in this semester. No, I’ve become a complete shut-in. My daily life consists of class, food, sleep, homework, and television. Nothing more, nothing less.
I don’t know who to blame. I also understand how terrible it sounds to want someone to be responsible for my own social laziness. I just honestly do not want to hang out with the people I’ve been around for the past two and a half years. It’s difficult for me to make friends in class because I take myself too seriously there to talk to anyone. I can’t look to my sorority for friendship–they either don’t like me or don’t care about me and I don’t find any of them interesting enough to try to push past that. I don’t even want to look to the fraternity I used to love–I’ve watched them turn rude and elitist over the years. My change in attitude toward this fraternity is the change that makes me question whether it’s them or me who has changed. Have they become unfriendly or have I become uninteresting?
I had a great time freshman year because everything social was easy. My sister had already done the footwork in attracting friends and I could just exploit that connection to make my own network. I can be fun, interesting, and (presumably) likable when I know the people around me are already interested in me, but when I have to start at square one, it’s terrifying.
I used to say I wasn’t shy, but I’ll admit it. I, Katherine Baer, am shy.
It’s a lot harder to deal with being ignored and disliked than it is to just avoid people altogether. And that same fear of being disliked keeps me from acting normally in social situations, so I end up being ignored. It’s a sad circle. When I go to parties these days, I can’t help but be terrified of every other girl there. She’s definitely thinner than me, she’s probably taller than me, she’s generally prettier than me, she is more talkative, interesting, and clever than I can ever hope to be. Oh, and she can dance. I can’t compete, so I’ve given up on trying.
Maybe parties are just not my style, but what is? How do you meet people outside of parties when you’re in college? Seriously, does anyone know? Anyone?
It’s not like I don’t have people I like who like me in return. There’s a few of them. I have four friends from high school. I don’t come home a lot so we don’t really talk, but they seem willing to keep me around. I’m going to be a bridesmaid for one of them, so I’m pretty sure that means she likes me too. There’s Jenna. We see each other maybe twice a year, but we certainly still like one another and that one time we went to dinner was a lot of fun. There’s Dave. I don’t think he’d mind hanging out with me if we were ever in the same town again. And lastly, there’s my sister. I constantly feel guilty because I feel like I take a lot more than I give in our relationship and sometimes I get worried that she doesn’t “count” because we’re related and she has to answer my phone calls whether she wants to or not, but I still think we’re friends.
And that’s all. I’m okay with that. Hell, I think seven friends is plenty. The problem is that they’re almost all long-distance friendships and I’m the only one in each group who only has them: when I’m not around, they have other people; when they’re not around, I’m all by myself.
I’ve been reading Catcher in the Rye and I can relate to Holden far more than I would prefer. I find myself simultaneously relating to him and hating him. By extension, do I then hate myself? I didn’t realize our similarities until recently, but it’s remarkable. He criticizes the people around him, constantly pulls himself out of situations that don’t fit his standards, often chooses wander around on his own, and judges people for things that shouldn’t matter. And when the moment comes when he could really use someone to talk to, there isn’t a single person he can call. He’s pushed them all away.
I’m only about halfway through Catcher, so I’m hoping that Holden turns out okay. Mostly just because maybe then I’ll be okay too. I don’t think Salinger is going to be that kind to me, but I’ll just keep reading and maybe, even if Holden can’t escape his own loneliness, I’ll still have some of that hope for my own future.