Over the years, I have tended to be very isolated. Usually, at gatherings that involved other people, especially those around my age, I would be off in a corner, having no desire to talk to anyone. Other attendees would come and say something in a polite attempt to get me to be sociable, and I refused; I didn't need the company of anyone else there, and I was pretty sure they didn't need me. In the event that I did "hang out" with whoever--and, many times, I only did it because I was told/forced to--it tended to happen fairly often that I would go off by myself at some point, because either I just wasn't interested in whatever "they" were doing, or someone/some people said/did something that upset me, and I would rather sit and brood over it than converse with anyone.
The fact that I limited myself made things even worse. Of course, we all have things that we think are overrated; there's simply no getting around my loathing of anything involving big bodies of water, to include beaches, pools, and water parks. To say that I didn't give it a chance is incorrect; up to 1999, I did everything from taking swimming lessons to going to Water Country--twice!--to even attending beaches and/or pools with friends, usually my fellow Cub Scouts or coeval church members. The problem? I never liked it; though I enjoyed the company, that was about the only thing I enjoyed. As I got older, my dislike grew to the point where I just wanted nothing to do with it anymore, much to the chagrin of some people who, to this day, believe that "aquatic therapy" would be good for me. Unless you want to see me more upset than you ever have before, I'd respectfully suggest otherwise.
However, with other areas of interest, even some popular ones, I now realize that I was totally off. One such area is sports; I always said that, since I wasn't raised around them, it wouldn't be possible for me to have an interest in them. As I got older, and I saw what I considered sports fanaticism from others everywhere I went, I was convinced that sports were horrible, wretched things, and even had a desire for them to be outlawed. It wasn't until later on, when I looked back at the fanaticism over celebrities and what-not that I had been showing my entire life, that I realized: I was just as guilty of it as they were. Unfortunately, I realized that a bit too late, and many would-be friends had already been turned off by my vehement attacks on one of their favorite pastimes. (If only I had applied Matthew 7:3-5 to my own life, instead of using it--and other Scriptures--to tell others why they were wrong.)
Even with other popular entities--non-Nintendo video games, current shows on networks other than the Disney Channel, etc.--I was just so sure that I wouldn't like them that I almost always refused to give them a chance. No matter how my friends or peers felt about whatever or whoever, one thing is true: To this day, I feel that I deprived myself of quite a bit when I was younger just because I was unwilling to try it out.
As you'd expect, people got very concerned, and there was a lot of debate, because I was offended that they would be adamant that I should attend something that I had already told them I had no interest in doing. The youth group at the church I previously attended went to the beach once, and it caused a fiasco, because, as I realize now, they really wanted me to go; they were trying to include me in the group, but I was furious that they even invited me. I even told others that I would rather they not have done it, which I currently consider an immature and incorrect statement. Later on, my classmates and other people I knew at the time--including even my brother-in-law--really wanted me to go to the school dances, especially Ring Dance--aka "junior prom"--and senior prom. I fought them every step of the way; when I heard about my real-life high school crush suffering an allergic reaction at senior prom, I spent the next few years proclaiming that as divine protection. True, some have since expressed disagreement with what "everyone else" seemed to be saying. One friend said, "I don't think you would have enjoyed prom, anyway, regardless of _______'s allergic reaction"; another friend said, "The dances at [our high school] were quite sexual, [Siobhan]. At the cleanest, you would have objected to some of the dances." Those statements may be true, but that still doesn't make my reaction to my other friends correct; instead of feeling honored that people would be looking out for me in such a way, I was both seriously offended and quite infuriated at them, which wasn't right at all.
So, what's to be done? First off, it's time to expand my horizons; limiting myself only to entertainment that relates to Disney, Nickelodeon, Christianity, or superheroes isn't the way to go. (Suggestions are welcome.) The baseless "loathing" of theme parks and sporting events needs to go away, too; the reasoning for such negative feelings is, in a word, stupid. Second off, I must issue an apology to many of my friends and even some former friends; I shouldn't have doubted your intentions and/or fiercely debated you when you suggested that I do something that I would rather not have done. If you still consider me a friend, I would guess that you have already forgiven me, but I still feel the need to apologize regardless. The biggest thing I need to do, though? Be more sociable!
So, this is an open invitation for any of my local friends, regardless of your age, for us to get together and do something. Want to see a movie together? Great! Would you like to go bargain hunting with me? Wonderful! Is one of our favorite artists/bands holding a concert nearby? If you don't mind me coming along, I'd be glad to do so! Even if you aren't currently living in my area, if you happen to be visiting for whatever reason, I'd be glad to get together with you.
I have a few points I would like to make before I close this. One: Why am I doing this? Yesterday, I had a phone conversation with a long-time friend, and she said, "If we lived closer, we'd definitely be hanging out." The problem is: She lives about three hours away, and rarely makes it out my way. Other long-distance friends of mine who are reading this probably feel the same way. So, I want to make it clear to my local friends that I don't want to be anti-social and that I am interested in getting together with them. You may think that I'd rather sit at home and watch Disney Channel than be out with friends on a Friday night, but you'd be wrong.
Two: I realize that there are other factors--or, at least, one big one--that is/are affecting my social life. No matter how well you know me, one fact you probably already know about me is that I have never had a driver's license. The fact that I can't transport myself to and from wherever I want to go has hurt my social life quite a bit; getting others to give me a ride has always been a hassle, if it was even possible. When all my coeval friends were getting their first cars, I was still taking the bus to school and riding with my mom or sister and brother-in-law to church. At one point, I did have my learner's permit, and I did take a few driving lessons with friends, but I never got very far, mostly because of my self-defeating attitude. When the permit expired, my dad wanted me to renew it, but I decided to get a non-driver ID instead. Though I spent years staunchly believing that I would never be able to drive a car properly--which my friends, family, and others almost universally disagreed with--over the past year or two, that belief has been cracking at its foundations. It may have been that, at the age when most people learn to drive, I simply wasn't ready for it. Since I have always been a bit behind--socially, anyway--compared to others my age, even if I could have successfully operated a motor vehicle, the responsibility of driving was one I just was likely not ready for at the time. Now that I am older and hopefully more mature, I'm planning on getting my learner's permit again soon. Before actually getting my license, I'm going to have a licensed driving instructor make sure that I belong behind the wheel of a car; if he/she says I'm not, then my fears were right all along, and I won't pursue it any further. Still, as the old saying goes, "You never know what you can do until you try."
Three: I don't want this to be something that we just talk about, and never actually do. I recently won a Bible Bowl competition at my church on the book of James. An old teen Bible that I got for Christmas when I was twelve says in its intro to that epistle, "'Don't just talk about it'--that's what was on James's mind." Another study help says, "The main point of [James] is simple: Don't just talk about it, do it." When you read the book--a mere five chapters--you see that's exactly the case. Unfortunately, it seems that, in many cases, us humans--myself included--tend to say we will do something, but never actually do it, even if we mean to follow through with our word. I'm really serious about this; I've known for a while that I am in need of change, and this is how I'm trying to make it happen. I can't do it without your support, though.