You’ve heard of “fear of missing out”? I have some of that, yes, but it feels like I’ve been left out; not just from any specific activity, mind you, but left out in some fashion from life itself.
It seems I always have to initiate everything. I’m always the one who reaches out to friends…well, unless one of them needs something from me, then they’re quite proactive about reaching out! It seems I’m nobody’s first choice to talk to or go out with; I work up the feeling that I really have some friends, only to find out that, curiously enough, they only go out with or see me when they have nothing else going on. If anyone else in their life wants to see them, i.e. their real friends, they’re always “too busy” to do anything with me.
They are real friends; they really do like me and care about me, and me them…it’s just that I’m simply not part of the inner circle or the friend who’s most important to them, with (as far as I can tell; I fear this might be wishful thinking) the partial exception of the person who I consider my best friend. I’m just never the person in anyone else’s life who’s most important; I’m never anyone else’s best friend. That’s something I lack and frankly always have lacked: someone who I was the best friend to, someone who *gasp* actually fully reciprocates my fondness for them and the kind of effort I put into nurturing a friendship.
It hits me particularly hard, because I really have very few friends. I never even had any friends in childhood or in the earlier part of young adulthood. As in any friends, period, until I was well into my twenties! Everyone else is really more of an acquaintance than what I feel like is an actual friend, and as frustrating as my friends can be, my outer social circle treats me even worse!
I’ve literally never been invited to any kind of social event by anybody outside of invitations that went out to big groups I happened to be part of that also included their real friends or the people they really cared about (e.g. everyone at a particular social dance is invited to some other event and I happen to be there). I’m never invited to anything that’s really all that private; not a small group, not a one-on-one date, nothing. I never really thought about it before the past few days, but now that I look back on it it is kind of odd, isn’t it?
More striking to me, though, is that nobody over the course of my entire life, not a friend, not an acquaintance, not even a stranger or an enemy, has ever proactively reached out to me about offering me any kind of opportunity to do something or improve my station or anything of that nature. It seems nobody ever goes out of their way to think “hey, maybe I should find an opportunity Adamas Nemesis might like and suggest it to him”, or even “hey, Adamas Nemesis might like this, I should ask him if he’d like to do that!”.
No, I’m always the one who has to think of everything and push other people to give me chances and do things with me, bizarrely even including private dance instructors. Well, in that case there has been one pleasant exception, i.e. someone who did reach out to me to give me an opportunity and encourage me, but perhaps tellingly the instructor in question was not from the United States originally. Neither are most of my actual friends. It seems that native-born Americans hate me, despite the fact that I’m a native-born American myself. Hmph.
Even when I was a child it was like that. Turn back the clock to 20 years ago: I obviously already know the material they’re teaching in class, I prove my mettle by getting (by the administrators’ own admission) the highest scores they’d ever even heard of on the standardized tests at the end of the year (ah, the glory years of No Child Left Behind…), yet nobody in any position of authority at any school I ever went to ever offers me any opportunity to do anything. Well, aside from the upper-track math courses, which just consisted of getting a greater quantity of the same level of work…that’s what Real America™ in the 2000s thought advanced education consisted of (this wasn’t even some substandard gifted class, mind you; the top third or so of students were put in it). It was my parents who had to badger them into even talking at all about grade-skipping or enrolling me in some sort of early university program, but they point-blank refused to do any such thing. Eventually we said just “screw it” and I was home-educated, and that was it for any social life I’ve ever had outside a ballroom studio (not that I had any at school to begin with…).
I feel like I’m always on the outside looking in; I’ve never really been part of the inner circle of any social group that was worth a damn. Heck, I’ve never really even had a friend group, as in a bunch of friends who regularly do things together. I’ve literally never experienced that. For me it’s always been one-on-one dates at best (and remember: I always have to be the one who reaches out to them!).
It really isn’t that way for everybody. It didn’t have to be that way for me, either. What makes the difference? People babble all day about social skills and personality, but I have good social skills, much better than most other people of my generation; as for my personality, I’m routinely described as sweet and good-hearted. Edgier types who claim to have taken the black pill babble all day about looks, but I’m actually good-looking; I regularly hear compliments about my appearance. Going by facial features I’m probably in the top 1% for my area. Weight? Sure, I could stand to lose some more, but most people in my area are considerably fatter than I am.
So what is it? I suspect it’s privilege, or rather the lack thereof in my case, stretching back to my rather downscale upbringing from a family who could accomplish with some difficulty a middle-income lifestyle but always had a very hard time making any social inroads, to the point the latter was basically impossible. Which brings us to a recent Reddit post that really resonated with me, perhaps encapsulating what I believe to be the real black pill: if you don’t grow up wealthy and well-connected your life will suck and there’s nothing you can do about it. Let’s go point by point:
I noticed that kids grow up in well-established families (for example, the rich white kids from NYC/LA whose dad is a business owner/managing director, mom is a lawyer/doctor, live in Upper East Side or Beverly Hills and spend the weekend in Hamptons and summer in Nantucket) are almost never lonely. They have lots of “fancy” friends and very active social life, always get invited to “nice” events, and travel internationally almost every long weekend, and domestically it’s always to some lavish resorts or their friends’ crazy nice beach-front mansions. And they don’t need to do well in school to get great jobs through family connections, and after a few years they’ll quit and take over family business.
It might sound like some seething envious fantasy, and perhaps it is, but I’ve noticed (as in personally witnessed) those who are affluent and well-connected from birth do indeed get all these things. It’s an overstatement to say they’re almost never lonely, but consider that for the actual upper class even if you are lonely and literally nobody wants to invite you there’s always the nuclear option of paying people for companionship. That’s not available to normal people like me (well, unless I want to bankrupt myself…). In any case you’ll tend to actually get invited to things and your presence will be sought after and welcome. People will treat you better, and you’ll have access to a lot more fun experiences with other people than normal kids do.
While kids that grow up poor, spend the summers doing minimum wage jobs or unpaid internships, dad is a janitor, mom is a cleaning lady, grow up in a shitty tiny house in a poor neighborhood, never get to sit in the lunch table with the cool kids, never get invited to any events that involve any cool kids, never gets to date or even talk to someone that’s smart/attractive […]
This is really true in my experience; I was, and honestly still am, such a kid, the kid who never gets to sit with the cool kids, never gets invited to anything the cool kids are doing, and never gets to meet anyone who’s smart or attractive. The higher-status the social setting, and the wealthier and better-connected you have to be to get access, the smarter and more attractive the people in it become. Privileged people have access to all the smart and physically attractive people they want, whereas people without privilege usually virtually never even meet such a person. I for one deeply need people in my life who are intelligent and physically attractive, for a social circle and for a beloved, but because I grew up impoverished and poorly-connected I’m apparently supposed to settle for some morlock with a fat body, a face that’s plain at best, and barely a thought in her head just because I’m turning 30 and now’s the right time for me to marry. Go to hell, I say. I know I deserve better than that!
never travelled abroad, never been to a nice resort, never been to a upscale bar, had to study hard in school, get good grades but still struggle to find an average-salary job.
True in my experience as well. It seems that even when I do reach out proactively I have to work ten times as hard and be ten times as good to get a tenth as much recognition or reward as someone who was born into more privilege than I was. As for travel, I feel very alienated from the rather jet-setting ballroom scene, because I’ve never been overseas. Sure, I could afford a one-time jaunt to Europe or some such, but one thing I can’t afford is to tour the country on these competition circuits. How do they afford it? Well, they have spouses who earn high incomes or families with money, and all the rest of it. Not that I’d like to be with some other sort of people who are not jet-setters; the salt-of-the-earth working-class types who’ve never left the state (like, how is that even possible!?) are far worse, but like I said, it really makes me feel left out.
Oh well; it seems my orbit in dance world is not quite as rich as what this Reddit poster describes, anyway. I basically never hear of fancy or nice international vacations from my own social circle. There are people who do, of course, but they’re like a whole socioeconomic class up from your average competitive ballroom dancer, so I wouldn’t hear much from them.
Stay at home alone browsing social media and saw your classmates/coworkers(who are just your aquitances, never your friends) all going out on Fri/Sat nights with a group of friends to nice places and having fun, while you’re home alone, watching Netflix, playing video game, watching sports/porn, screening social media, swiping dating apps but never get good matches, and pretending everything is fine but in reality you can’t wait for the weekend to be over so you can go to school/work again and actually talk to real people, even if it’s just some meaningless fake small talk, and when they ask you how your weekend was, you would make up stories like “oh I went out with friends doing X and Y” just so you don’t sound pathetic.
Things aren’t that bleak for me, but honestly even I’m not that far off from it (the going-out-without-me bit is too familiar…). Without ballroom dance, this is probably more or less the fix I’d be in. And it’s a fix an awful lot of Americans are in. For the modal person who lacks privilege, that really is what life is like. Talk about a black pill…
I think growing up poor reallly has a huge impact on kids’ FA [Forever Aloneness], especially these days everyone’s on social media. Also it hits your confidence – you can’t invite anyone home cuz then they’ll know you’re poor and you’ll be judged and looked down upon and never be invited to anything.
Oh my goodness; this is so much me. I sense a big social handicap for me is that my own house is old, modest, and not suitable for entertaining. It might sound histrionic, but I wouldn’t entertain a dog in my house, and I’m too ashamed of my living conditions to want anyone in my social life to know about them. The picture they have in their imagination is likely far superior, and I know they’d both be disappointed and think less of me, even if they’d extend a bit of pity in their hearts (which I neither need nor want from them).
This applies to social media too; all these people with these swanky houses they feel comfortable not just entertaining their friends in but also showing off to the world…I want that life. Even a house that’d be fit to host a decent home-based business in would be satisfactory in some sense. But I can’t even expect that much from life.
And that’s not even getting into how said house is like 100 miles away from the action in the big city, which is another big social handicap to me; because I’m too poor to afford anything closer I have to drive in my car for hours to go anywhere or do anything, which limits what I can do. I can either go to half the events or be half as energetic at each event because the trips are so exhausting. No wonder I have to resort to performance-enhancing drugs…
And you can’t ask a semi-attractive girl out cuz girls generally date UP, and they wouldn’t want to be with a guy that has nothing to offer. Even if she says yes, once you start dating she’ll find out you’re actually poor and how pathetic and friendless you are, then she’ll probably cut you off forever, and worse – people talk, so everyone in your circle is likely to know the REAL you, and you’re fucked for good.
Well, I don’t have trouble chatting up or asking out anybody when I meet someone I’m attracted to and interested in, it’s just that I basically never encounter any such person to begin with! Which ties into the issues mentioned earlier.
To some people all this might sound kinda unbelievable, but I for one am sure it has a reasonable degree of accuracy. I might be an outcast but I’m close enough to getting into the club to have gotten a few glimpses of what life would be like as a swanky coastal urban elite, and it’s shocking how much of an improvement it is for someone like me.
Like, I’m actually treated like a normal person instead of some kind of low-key pariah, and I actually meet young people who I find physically attractive and can get along well with. Smart good-looking people from abroad, both in my own local area and in the source regions, actually seem to like me and include me in things. I can actually talk to them without feeling awkward or like I’m walking on eggshells, perhaps because I actually have something in common with them than the regular locals where I had the misfortune of being brought up.
Alas, I can’t afford anything better. Not yet. But here’s the rub: by the time that happens most of my youth will be gone. Certainly my childhood can never be altered at this point. And honestly that’s just depressing. Yet it’s one of those realities of the world we’re asked to just accept and treat like it’s totally normal: at this point in America’s history, if you don’t want to be surrounded by dumb insular morlocks who pee on your artwork (yes, this happened to me in middle school) or get their dogs to poop in your yard on purpose (yes, this happened to me recently, and when I called out the perpetrator he accused me of being the “weird” one), you have to be a millionaire. That’s about what it takes to avoid the human filth that apparently is now the norm in this country.
It didn’t used to be quite so formidable of a challenge; my grandparents with just the market value of the home they bought 50 years ago could have moved to an inner suburb of Los Angeles. Now I’d have to take the market value of that same home (which I still live in now), and add at least another half a million or so onto it. Where I’m supposed to get that and still have enough in my nest egg left to, you know, eat and pay bills is an interesting question…ha!
Moral of the story? Growing up poor or even middle-income sucks in ways that are seldom even imagined, much less appreciated. If you’re not perfect in every way, if you have the slightest defect, the slightest flaw, the slightest misfortune, you’re good as dead as far as any successful path in life goes unless you have money and privilege to back you up. Which I don’t.
To grow up outside the privileged few is to be left out, not just from any particular activity but from really living in any meaningful sense. Remember that when you choose what level of wealth and privilege is “enough” for you and your future children. What people tend to think is “enough”…really isn’t.