I am the definitive wallflower.
I was the girl who ate lunch alone in the 6th grade because I was invisible to the girls I previously sat with…and I would rather be alone than not seen or heard. Afraid of imposing on other social groups as well, distance and walls became my safety zones…my retreats. It is funny, though–when someone with preconceptions about who I am actually gets to know me, it is always a surprise at how mistaken they were.
Common misconceptions about wallflowers:
- we have nothing to say: this belief could not be further from the truth. Everyone has feelings, opinions, and ideas…some people just don’t talk about them. I believe wallflowers actually have more to say because our brains contain a warehouse of unspoken thoughts waiting to be shared with just the right person…or blog.
- we are clueless about what’s going on around us: you want to know the latest gossip?…find a wallflower. Being the most attentive observers of human behavior (and the best listeners), we know what’s what: we know your names, your friends, and your scandals.
- we have no social life: usually untrue…and we don’t just hang out with other no-names. We just don’t socialize with the in-crowds…or at least not when they are with each other. I’ve had friends in many social circles my entire life but only socialize with them one-on-one because I cannot stand their friends…which brings me to…
- sometimes, we don’t want to hang out with you: everyone wants to fit in, but only when the people they associate with are supportive and worth the effort.
That said, more often than not, I have simply been anxious when attempting to infiltrate a group. Often one feels less alone on the sidelines than amongst a group of friends who don’t seem to notice your presence.
Visiting my very outgoing family this weekend has been a reminder of social issues stemming from childhood…trying to add to a conversation and being talked over as if my voice is but a whisper, my thoughts are unworthy of a response, and my opinions bear no weight. Most of the time I retreat to my bedroom to read or write and my absence goes unnoticed. My family’s lack of recognition is not deliberate and bears no malice…but it is a reminder of why I am more a bystander than participant in my own life.
LESSON: Be kind to the inconspicuous wallflower. Get to know us! We have a lot more to say than you’d think.