Having a unique name, such as mine is, has inadvertently led to a big personal surprise: people from my past are actually contacting me and asking to "friend" me on Facebook! I'm touched and pleased to do so, especially since my memories of high school (as a single example) were of me being an extremely introverted individual with little to no social graces. Sure, I was smart, and I guess I must've been funny on occasion — but I know from my parents that I was overweight and my wit was often unintentionally painfully cutting. It wasn't malice on my part; I honestly had no idea how to fit in. I suspect I must have thrashed around like a fish out of water sometimes in an effort to be liked — and doing so probably meant I accidentally whapped a lot of folks around me with my metaphorical tail. :)

In retrospect, I guess what made my gracelessness acceptable in high school (and before, although I don't recall those times as clearly) was that we were all struggling madly to figure out who we were and where we fit, into our bodies as well as into our lives and interpersonal relationships.

I was at least somewhat more socially graceful (although not astonishingly so, I suspect) by the time I was in college for the first go-round, when I joined the SCA; I cannot otherwise account for why a startling number of folks from that time appear happy to reconnect with me on Facebook. Indeed, discovering I was on the whole still well thought of by those individuals quite surprised me — I found myself almost alarmed to discover that!

I had to think about it for a while, to try and figure out why I'd have that reaction. I speculate it is due to my unwitting childhood reactions to moving so often. For example, since I knew no one would be there for any length of time, I unconsciously trained myself to never become too enamored of any place, or invest myself too much in any group of people. Over time I was trained how to be polite, of course, so the adults loved me — but I didn't have a clue how to relate to my peers.

Since I thought of myself as a lone individual, rather than an individual that was reassuringly part of a group or geographical area (i.e. "She's so-and-so's cousin," or "I'm part of the 5th Street gang"), I seem to have felt the internal need to define myself quite stringently — there wasn't anyone else to help me do so except immediate family, after all, and I didn't really like the person they seemed to think I was. Further, it's hard to trust some friend implicitly when you know quite well they're going to vanish in a year or two. I think, whenever we moved, the child-me considered the past as something which had also effectively vanished, such that it existed only in my memories from that point on. Believing so, even if only unconsciously, meant I didn't have to anguish over what I'd lost, since it was gone — there was no returning to it.

This also explains, I think, my intense dislike of role-playing games where someone screws with my character's mind. If, as a child, I believed myself to have no real past — to be made only of my own personal memories — then having someone assault my mind means they are effectively erasing part of what is me — they are, without my permission, changing the very person I am. It's an easy step to having the phobias of the player reflected in the character being played, of course — both consciously and non-consciously.

Apparently on some emotional level I also wasn't happy about all the moving we did, since I seem to have projected my anger at this on the friends I left behind — i.e. I assumed they must be similarly angry, but with me for leaving them. This explains my recent, almost alarmed feelings at being "discovered" through Facebook: my unwitting internal assumption was that they would all still be annoyed with me. To have some of them actually seem pleased to find me has been startling, as I noted earlier… and has given me this opportunity to learn myself a little better. Thank you!

I find myself curious now, though: has anyone else felt similarly? For example, if as a child you moved on average once every two years or so (or more), did you keep old connections and friends, or did you let them go? Or alternatively: if you grew up in one place, how did you react to friends who moved away — and did you hold on firmly to all the friends you had who stayed?

Let me know what you think; I'd love to hear from you!

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