The Perpetual Outsider

Remember the first day at a new school? Trying to make new friends, making sure you impress; saying and doing the right things. Well, atleast not do the wrong ones! Hoping you make some connections.

Now imagine feeling that…. well always. I changed schools often for different reasons. I went through four schools by the time I graduated from 12th grade. This meant I made a lot of friends but very few were strong connections. Post schooling I moved through different cities pursuing my higher education. End of it, I didn’t come back to the city I grew in but got married and settled in Hyderabad. So, same story again.

My new friends now were my husband’s friends, classmates, colleagues and so on. I had studied and worked here too and I knew most of these guys, but they were my friends because they were his. Relationship by association. Of course, over the years I consider them my friends too, but you know what I mean?

Well, I saw it clearly what it meant a couple of weeks ago, when I went on a holiday with my old school friend. Before I met her at Pondicherry, I spent a day at Chennai catching up with some other friends. This friend at Chennai and the schoolmate I was meeting have known me forever. Known me from before the time one learns to behave a certain way with certain people. They know me as I am. The real one, no frills attached.

At two different instances, during individual conversations, both of them acknowledged a characteristic of my personality. It wasn’t an accusation or a judgement. It was acceptance. I was exactly that, and they didn’t care. This made me so happy and sad at the same time. Happy, cause there were this people who actually knew me! And sad cause they lived hundreds of miles away. We talked about how we know we are there for each other, but it isn’t the same to pick up the phone and talk when the going gets tough than being available to sit across each other and talk in person.

Apart from a few others, I have the same connection with mainly my friends from my Masters. Living together for 3 years, seeing each other through every emotion possible. Happy days, lakes of tears, heartbreaks and even evil plans! If we stuck through despite all that, we were really friends!

All these are people who know my strengths and flaws, they have seen my generosity and my meanness, they have seen my loyalty and my indifference, they know I can put my life on hold for others and also hatch evil plans! (I actually have once! :P) They know my quirks, likes, dislikes and pet peeves. Sometimes, I feel they know me better than I know myself! (Not a movie dialogue, I swear!) I have heard them describe me or talk about certain instances, and they are spot on!

We can talk about each other’s flaws, roll our eyes and let them know they are getting on our nerves. There would be no doubt of the intent. No judgement. Just acceptance and support. And this feeling of security is not just because of what I feel for them but also because of the confidence they have given me over the years through their actions.

I am not saying I don’t have friends here. I have some really great ones. The ones which were supposed to be casual turned into one of my biggest support systems and the ones I believed to be so solid that I could bet my life on, turned into absolute disasters. (Glad, I didn’t actually bet it!) And I wouldn’t change a thing! I love them and can’t imagine what I would do without them.

But, I do wish I had a school friend or a childhood buddy with me like a lot of you do. Someone who has known me and chosen to be my friend along with my quick flaring anger and my (sometimes) caustic remarks. Someone who knows it lasts for a few minutes and it just takes a smile to melt me away. Someone I didn’t have to pretend with, or watch my words and emotions. Someone who would call my BS but also have my back no matter what. A relationship where I am not worried about being misunderstood, where it’s unconditional support and love and not based on terms and conditions. Where it isn’t just based on how much fun you are, but your value as a person. A relationship which wasn’t marred by us adulting and trying to behave the way society expects us to. A friendship where I can bare my soul and show my ugly side without the fear of being rejected.

Maybe then, I will stop being the perpetual outsider.

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