Warning: This Post Contains Vague Introspection and a Lot of Complaining About Stupid Things

I must reiterate the title's warning, before you go on. Brace yourself. I feel sort of bad for writing about it, but I'd feel worse if I didn't say anything.

I work with a friendly bunch of people. With the exception of a few oddballs, most everyone currently employed at my store is talkative, helpful, friendly, and social, especially with each other. I would not classify this as a bad thing, really. They enjoy going out together, long-term friendships have been forged in the heat of a 450* oven, and everyone has stories.
Except for me.
I have long noticed that when everyone (read: three to five fellow employees) are making plans to go out, they ask just about everyone on shift (and quite a few not on) if they'd like to join.
Except for me.
Last night, four of my coworkers and an assortment of other friends went out to a local bar called Jerseys to hang out.
[I would like to clarify that "hang out" in this instance should be defined as "go drinking with a bunch of people you know and have lots of fun with each other while imbibing a large amount of alcohol". This is not, however, always the correct definition.]
They spent a good portion of tonight talking about it, while two others who were on shift were discussing a similar set up at another location.
I was standing around listening half-heartedly, because I had nowhere to insert a similar memory or story with any of them. I felt very left out, and that bothered me. I left the wait station to hang around the oven, because at least there no one usually bothers me unless they urgently need a pizza that they just put in an order for ten minutes ago and need immediately, even though it's going to be at least 15 minutes.

I have long suspected that I am not generally regarded as a fun person at Pizza Hut. I am tolerable and generally a pleasant and cheerful person with a few funny stories, but I think that no one can imagine me doing anything besides going home and going to bed at the end of the night. And that is a shame, because that is not what my life consists of.
While I do not go out ever other night of my life and drink to get drunk, I do like going out. I even enjoy having a drink or two. I guess because I've said I don't want to get drunk (always followed promptly by: "but I've had a few good drinks before") everyone thinks that I don't want to go out.
They are wrong, and it kind of hurts.

It took me a while to figure out exactly what I was bothered by.
At first, I thought it was because I felt so left out. Not quite as far as unwanted, but perhaps... more like I'm some sort of orbiting moon (or a Kuiper Belt Object). I'm there, but at a distance and no one takes me seriously or thinks of me. And that kind of hurts, because the next feeling after that is that I'm not worth the effort.
Patrick suggested I try dropping some subtle hints, but at this point I'd feel pretty stupid doing that. For one, I'm not that good at subtle. I never have been. And two, it wouldn't be their idea; it would be a sort of oh-we-forgot-you-well-okay-but-don't-be-a-stick-in-the-mud invite. Or, even worse, if I outright expressed my feelings I'd probably get a pity invite. And that would just be devastatingly insulting. Another co-worker to whom I divulged my feelings suggested that I join in the conversation with a few drinks that I like, or perhaps a bar that I've visited that was particularly good. The problem with that is that most of the drinking my friends and I do is generally and someone or other's apartment; we usually don't go out specifically just to get drinks.
But thank you for the suggestion, maybe eventually I'll go with it. I've put up with this feeling for two years or so out of my employment, so I'll just deal. Plus that's almost exclusively how I felt in high school (minus the drinking). I'm used to being the odd one out, this is nothing new.

And then I realized what exactly was irritating me. All that stuff about being left out and all, that was part of it. But the majority of the problem was that I feel like I shouldn't let it get to me. I'm used to it after all. Deep down, I think that I should be this wall of uncaring brush-it-off-ness that just dances through life without letting any troubles weigh me down. I've had enough experience pulling that veneer off in school, I should be capable of doing it at work, too.
Obviously I am not.
I am not very good at expressing feelings such as this exclusion to other people, especially when they themselves seem so oblivious to it. I don't want an invitation out of pity, because that would be injurious to my pride. "Oh, poor Kate doesn't have any friends. Well, we'll let her come along and we'll just ignore her the whole time, and then maybe she won't want to come again." That imagined scenario roars through my head every time I ponder speaking out. On the other hand, I'm afraid of outright rejection. "What? Who wants to go out with you?"
So, I stand still. I stand still when I am fairly aching to yell.

And I think I've had just about enough.

(But probably not, I'm not an aggressive person in most respects.)

Can you hear the calling of the raving wind and water?
We just keep dreaming, of a land 'cross the river.
We are always on the way to find the place we belong
Wandering to nowhere, we're paddling
Down the raging sea...

"To Nowhere"~Yuki Kajiura


Donna Lee said...

All I can say is I identify. And it's not a stupid thing to feel left out. This won't be your last place of employment. When you start your next job, you be the one to suggest an outing so you set the tone.

Without sounding maudlin here, I am not a person who makes friends easily. For some reason people always assume I am ok on my own. Usually I am but I understand where you're coming from. And yes, it hurts. And being a wall of it-doesn't-bother-me-ness gets hard.

Roxie said...

Been there. Felt that. It sucks! You probably can't change the situation. Can you change how you feel about it? After all, do you really want to go out drinking with this crew and spend your precious energy and waking hours with those people, or is there someone else, someting else more important,more fun? You have a full, busy life, you do interesting things that are not everyone's cup of tea, and you are a strong and balanced woman. It's possible that they don't think you would go out with them if they asked. If you want to correct that impression, you might say, "That sounds like a lot of fun! Next time you go, let me know. Maybe I can join you." Very light and casual. You don't NEED them, but they might be worth your time and attention.

Hugs and love. You are an amethyst in a loaf of raisin bread. Of course you don't fit in.