High school so far has been lonely, to say the least.
I’m not trying to sound ungrateful– I have so many friends that I’m thankful to have met, and people have been kind more often than not. Some people are going to be impossible to forget, and I hope I’ll always remember the laughs, tears and everything in between. Even then, looking back on it high school has still been lonely.
Everyone always talks about “finding your people” and I’ve just never felt like I have. Even when I’ve spent time with some of my closest friends, I’ve always felt like it wasn’t genuine. I’m truly myself around anyone here, especially since it’s always just been easier to just fall into a mold or play the part. Fitting in is systematic when you really think about it: Talk like this, act like that, look like them and chances are someone will laugh at your jokes and won’t mind if you sit at their lunch table. It’s always been easier to be that person and have friends than to be myself and sit alone.
I’ve never felt like I had friends who really understood me or got me. There’s just never been anyone really like me in Fairbury; no one has ever had the same interests or aspirations as me. I’ve always felt like an outlier at school, an oddball out. It’s lonely being on your own like that, but I’ve managed.
This past summer I was fortunate enough to spend two weeks at the Iowa Young Writers’ Studio in Iowa City. It was a selective program, open to students internationally who all shared a passion for creative writing. For the first time in my life, I met people with similar interests, people with related mindsets and the same goals for the future. For the first time in my life, I met people like me.
People I’d met just two weeks before suddenly felt like I’d known them my entire life. I’ve never considered myself overly emotional, but my heart broke a little more every time someone caught their flight and I found myself reaching for the tissues whenever someone else’s parents arrived to take them home. In Iowa City this summer, I found my people, and for the first time in my life I wasn’t lonely.
The moral of all this is that your people are out there. Even if you ever feel like fitting in is all you’re doing, or if you think you’re the outcast of a group of friends, I promise you it’s true. Even if you have to drive six hours to meet them, or if you only get two sacred weeks with some of the best people you’ll ever meet, they’re out there and I can assure you you won’t be alone forever.