I’ve struggled with the experience of friendship throughout my life. I don’t understand all of the reasons for it – lately I’ve been considering the possibility of undiagnosed neurological conditions – but whatever the reasons might be, finding a circle of friends who I love, trust, and feel a true sense of belonging with has always been difficult and painful for me.
I’ve had something like that experience a couple of times, but it’s been much more common for me to try and force that feeling of belonging when in the company of the wrong people – not bad people, but people with whom it was probably impossible for me to truly connect in the ways I need to. And so I’ve spent time as a hanger-on with groups of friends that didn’t always treat me well; I’ve attempted to push my way into groups that kept their doors closed to me; and I’ve attempted to deceive myself into thinking that my feelings of belonging in some groups were stronger and more meaningful than they actually were.
I suppose it’s possible I’m doing that now; my ability to perceive and gauge those dynamics is a sputtery and broken thing, which of course has contributed to my lifelong social troubles. I don’t believe I’ll ever be free of that specific difficulty. However, I have circles of friendship within the world of children’s literature that are unlike anything I’ve ever experienced before, and I don’t believe my trust and faith in those circles are misplaced.
I don’t know if that’s because I have a better understanding of where to place my trust, or because I’ve finally found the right community of people for me. Probably both, right? I think I truly am starting to live as a social being in a way I’ve always wanted to. These still relatively new friends who I love and trust so much? I think I can let myself feel that way about them. I think that might be okay.