When I was young I was a loner. I isolated myself from people and they did the same. In kindergarten I was mockingly called “hairy monkey” (if any of you who called me this are reading know that I have completely forgiven this). In school I only ever had 1 real friend at a time. Sometimes they moved away, sometimes I did. In college the same thing happened to an extent. I would only really connect with 1 or two people and the rest I would ignore as they ignored me.
The one exception to this was my first time at EFY when I realized that I was never going to see these people again so why try to fit in, instead I am just going to be myself, speak my mind and metaphorically say “to hell with them!” Well my plan backfired on me and I all of a sudden had friends. I figured it was because of the summer-camp feel and so brushed it off. I didn’t reclaimed that feeling of comfort in a group setting that I felt at EFY until after I came out and then it was only a fleeting feeling.
When I left DC I left friends that I had spent two years getting to know, meet, laugh, and love. It was hard to say goodbye and thankfully the internet has kept us close. I figured that was the first time out of a college setting that I was in and so the people around me were different but that I had stayed the same, sheltered person who could only really have 1 friend.
Well then I moved to SF and now leaving it after being here for only 4 months. Last night I had a going away party with 10 friends who I was flabbergasted to have made. Until DC I only ever really had 5 friends and never more than 2 at the same time. Here I had 10 who were truly sad to see me go after knowing me for only a short while.
I juxtapose that goodbye with the hello I received during the 1 day I was in Ann Arbor. I have already met a few new friends who showed me around campus and when I went to Church I first sat quietly in a pew and then I took a step back and realized I should say hello to the people around me. I helped a young woman warm-up her voice and gave her encouragement as she practiced her solo. I met a girl who I am taking her Ice Cream maker from CA to MI for. and a couple of other friends within 1 hour of being there.
As much as I hate to admit it, I have changed. I have grown up and am no longer the boy who hid in his shell. I speak my mind without having to prep myself as I did at EFY, I make friends and can be the life of a party, I can talk about many issues and areas that I am almost never at a loss for what to say. While I don’t thrive in this environment I think that is just because I have had the mentality that I didn’t fit into it. Realizing that I am good at making friends, enjoying their company, and being the life of a party I hope to change further and make extroversion my natural habitat.