It’s funny being back among people my own age. As I sit in a busy café, surrounded by my peers, I look around me and see diversity embodied. From studious to disengaged, the students who frequent this place are all over the map. There’s a musician playing live on stage, wearing a fedora and commenting on the youth around him. He isn’t one of the students- his grey hair peeking out from under the cover of his hat belies his status as outsider from the in-group around him. He wails away on his guitar, singing with a voice quite pleasing. I can’t help but wonder how he got this job- what did he do with his life up until now? Is he secretly a businessman, donning a t-shirt and jeans to play to the students on his days off, just for fun? Or, alternatively, is he a full-time musician? Is he retired? What does he do for the rest of his day?
Interestingly, I seem to focus on those who don’t appear to be a member of the dominant group in any situation. Maybe this is because I feel like one of those people- someone who just doesn’t quite fit in the group, for all that I sometimes feel like I blend into the scenery. Sure, I look my age- I don’t think anyone would be mistaking me for either a geezer or a high school student. I read my textbooks like any other student, making liberal use of my highlighter. At the same time though, I’m a little different. I tote around a massive coffee like the rest of them, but I worry if my heart skips a beat. I eat at campus eateries like the others, but I’m fitting the copious options into my meal plan, ever-conscious of getting in all my exchanges. I don’t pull all-nighters, well aware of my need for a good sleep and ever the anti-procrastinator.
Though I’ve been getting more involved than ever in my community, campus and otherwise, I still haven’t quite found that group in which I fit. I’m enjoying myself trying to find it, but I can’t help but get a bit frustrated along the way. I’d like to meet up with friends rather than sit alone or with my dad during lunchtime. I’d really enjoy meeting some people who share my interests, or even going on a date. I’ve come so far in my recovery that I’ve reached a point where I’m willing, and trying, to put myself out there in many ways. At this point, it’s a matter of patience- trying to arrange my world in a way that works for me rather than trying to fit in where I’m not quite comfortable. The stumbling blocks I face because of my shyness, which can sometimes read as aloofness, are simply small obstacles to surmount on my quest for acceptance. This quest for acceptance isn’t outwardly focused, however, but a quest for acceptance from someone very important- myself.