He was what everyone deemed as an outsider. Maybe it’s because of the way he looked or dressed, or how he acted. He was socially awkward, and no matter what he tried to do, he could never fit in.
I didn’t like him as a person. I couldn’t stand how he would somehow sneak his way into people’s conversations or outings (he was an habitual self-invite), and wouldn’t say a word. He would sneak in, smile awkwardly, and stand there silent. If he chose to say something, it didn’t resonate with anyone. On the few occasions where I tried to be the better and nicer person, he would act strangely, and I would revert back to my annoyance.
His timing was horrible when it came to food. He would take too much too soon, or he would take things that didn’t belong to him. Or, he would find a way to sneak in to get free food when it just wasn’t appropriate.
He would stare at people to the point where it made them uncomfortable. When they would nonchalantly try to break the stare and move on, he’d figure out a way to move back in.
He had high hopes and aspirations, but couldn’t figure out the appropriate way to bring them to fruition. Often, he would speak out of turn, or rudely. Or worse, interject himself in a position where he had no reason to be. He attempted to step in many times where he had no expertise and no authority. Often times, others would have a shocked look on their face, as if to say “Did he just really do that???”
Sometimes, he would tell such tall tales about himself, that you couldn’t believe someone was trying so hard.
Because of all these things, and because he just wasn’t like “us”, I decided I didn’t like him. I talked about him to people who would agree. We felt sorry for him, but apparently not enough to stop talking about the awkward interactions. We’d go back to the same conclusion that he was strange, and we would avoid him as much as we could.
When he decided to finally leave, people were relieved that he was going away. There wasn’t a big celebration for him, or anyone saying their goodbyes. Instead, there were jokes that he might just lose it on his last day and we’d all go home early to avoid it.
I won’t forget him. He reminds me of how cruel and difficult we can be to one another. I perpetuated this. I let the differences be a barrier to just being kind. He wasn’t like us, so we treated him that way. I know he could feel it and yet, he always tried. I feel bad now, because his life wasn’t that easy, and here we were making it harder.
I ask myself, if he were to come back today – would we change? Or would we still be affected by the fact the wasn’t one of us? How cruel of us to laugh at the expense of someone who just wanted…a friend. Who just needed to belong.
Every experience I have and every action I take – I wonder how it would affect my son and what that would teach him. What if he were the one that wasn’t like anyone else? What if he were to be like me, and treat someone differently? Because of this, I think twice about the actions I take, and what things I may say about others. I’m not perfect, but I can do more to be kind. After all, a little kindness goes a long way…and perhaps in this instance, it would have done more.