Were they making fun of me behind my back?

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In school, I felt like an outsider.

I saw how others connected and had a great time, while I struggled.

Take the other guys in my class for example. I often worried that they were making fun of me behind my back and it felt like it was them inside and then me outside. (We’ve written an article about how to spot a fake friend from a real friend over here.)

Go here to read more about how to deal with someone making fun of you.

One day, a new guy came to class. After a week, he was closer with my classmates than I was after a year.

That “proved it” to me: There’s definitely something wrong with me!

Like I’ve said before, I don’t regret that time, because that’s what formed who I am today.

I just wish I knew this back then:

Just because something is in a certain way, doesn’t mean it will always be that way.

You see, back then everything felt pretty dark to me. I had low self-esteem, so I didn’t believe that I would be able to turn things around.

I had good times, too, and I did have some friends.

It was just that being off socially and seeing others hit it off when I didn’t make me think less of myself.

I had little hopes I would improve.

I could rationally see that practice makes perfect, but it FELT like there was something wrong with me and it FELT like this was how life would be.

Here’s what I’ve learned after all these years: It doesn’t matter what it FEELS like. Sometimes, you just have to do what you know is right even if feels like it won’t work out.

These photos sum up my life today. To me, they prove that just because you felt like an outsider, it doesn’t mean it will always be that way.

How did your childhood affect your social beliefs today? Did you worry about people making fun of you behind your back? Let me know in the comments!

8 years ago, I committed to build my social confidence and become great at connecting with people.

Hundreds of books and thousands of interactions later, I'm ready to share with the world what I’ve learned.

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27 thoughts on “Were they making fun of me behind my back?”

  1. Today, I am proud of who I am. But it wasn’t always like this. I’m only in high school but when I was in 6th grade I was “forced” to be an introvert. One might ask how can you be “forced” to be an introvert. Well let me put it like this, in elementary school I was known for being kind, by those who even knew my name at all, but I was kind all the same. Anyway, I didn’t have many friends, just friendly acquaintances but in 6th grade they decided free seating was causing problems so they gave each class assigned tables to eat at. Well this would have been fine except my 3 closer “friends” were all in a different class than me. So at that many people would say, great! Now you can make new friends! Not exactly. You see my class was assigned the booths. But they also had a VERY strict 4 to a booth rule which meant we were short booth seats so we also had a table. Long story short…I sat alone at the table every day for lunch. Therefore, I was forced to “find strength in being by myself” the definition of an introvert. But myself not being an introvert meant that it was draining and VERY lonely and it cause GREAT damage to my already weak self esteem and confidence. Therefore, I was DETERMINED that I was NEVER going to let myself feel like that the following year. So when I met my best friend in 7th grade, (who is still my best friend) my life CHANGED. And I while im still working on friends I am able to have the self confidence of a bullet. And even though I still struggle sometimes, so does everyone. Its human. After all this life is to help us grow. God doesn’t expect us to be perfect right now, it’s not POSSIBLE but he wants us to TRY, to PROGRESS.

  2. My childhood was shaped by a very rough school that I went to where there was terrible bullying. It made me very shy to make friends and I am still single at 47.

  3. I felt far later that I had actualized my adult personality on my childhood basis. School change brought a huge change to my life,i had no friends atall n the one I got treated me an complete outsider even though in group. Thus I always feared to befriend any new person n would get settle with some wid guilt n persona of I did something wrong n they’ll leave me . Took me years to understand myself

  4. My family is strict with where ever i go…so making new friends is a difficult thing for me.I wouldnt call my friends as ‘ true ‘ cause I hardly have any…going out with them makes feel uncomfortable, but being the fact that i am an introvert and my parents are not understanding ( cause all of them are extorverts and i am the odd one out ) is pretty much difficult , is it compulsary to have friends or be alone…i am still trying to figure out.

  5. I remember as a kid I was always very happy to play on my own, I did’t mind it. I quite liked being alone. However as the years passed and I entered my teens I realised while I was busy doing my own stuff everybody else had gotten to practice their social skills. In highschool I felt akward and insecure in most social situations because of this.

    It feels so alien now in hindsight, knowing what I know now at 22. I’m nowhere near being done but already I see so many obvious flaws in my past social interactions. It always did feel like I was 2-3 years behind everyone else.

    I remember feeling frustrated that I didn’t like to socialize and party like the other kids. I felt like I had so much to give, but I never felt comfortable in those situations. So I avoided them, thinking that’s just who I was… never questioning it.

    It became more and more obvious to me though that this was a confidence issue rather than a “disliking social events” issue. Starting university was also a major eye opener. It was obvious I was missing out on a fundamental part that makes life worth living.

  6. My childhood was a very restricted one. My mother didn’t like me having the company of most boys around our area. She believed that they were somewhat ‘bad’. I think that under- exposure to friendships is impacting my relationships even today.
    Talking to girls was never my area. But I feel to do that. But I was the worst communicator a girl could get. I am very unpopular and unfashionable in my class and among peers.

  7. I’am from the middle east I grew up in Maine till middle school there was bad and decent people and I believe the more social interaction and self-culturization, knowledge the better for all
    Moe

  8. I was very shy when i started high school and thought i was weird and had low self esteem. I was worried that people would made fun of me behind my back. I am still shy and worries what people are thinking about me.
    I have problems to get new friends. I don’t know how to take contact to new people.

  9. Well,my childhood had a negative impact on my social beliefs and as i grew up, it affected me terribly, but i have improved significantly after changing my environment and facing more hardships and working hard to turn it upside-down.So,after reading the sent article i also felt a bit relieved.

  10. I’ve always been an introverted person. When it comes to making friends, I find it difficult to connect with them because I never know what to talk to them about. I don’t want to ask them a random question and make them uncomfortable. I also don’t want to bring up a light or related topic as it usually involves school, which isn’t sustainable in a conversation. On a similar note, carrying conversations is a struggle. I will ask questions and try to elaborate, but I don’t want to come off as inquisitive and conceded if I end up talking about my personal experiences. These combine inability’s to engage and continue a conversation makes it difficult for me to make friends. Unfortunately at the time of me writing this, nothing has changed. I’m looking forward to everything this training offers, as I am desperate for friends and close friends to bond with.

  11. You see, my dad is a priest and he would get transferred every 3-4 years. Each time,i would change schools,causing a break in all my friendships.Thus,i don’t have any kind of childhood friends , or any good friends for that matter. It actually really hurts me when people don’t want anything to do with me. I really believed that there was bad about me that people hated. But my brother,under the same circumstances,made a large number of friends and was the center of attention everywhere he went. IT was really hurt when people knew my brother but did not know that he did not even have a brother.

  12. Hello i really recognize me in your mail. I changed school in grade 6. I thought everyone at my new school was strange and I felt like a black sheep that did not fit in with any friendship group, I had no friends and it felt like everyone was afraid of me. now I go to eighth and will change school to ninth grade. I hope it will be better there and that I will not have to keep being an outsider.

    (This was translated by google translate so this might have some grammatical errors but I hope that you get what I’m trying to say?).

  13. I remember in elementary school, I tried to join a conversation and someone told me “We’re not talking to you”, and there was no reason for it, it wasn’t a personal conversation or anything. So I never tried again. Also the guys had all these words that meant inappropriate (usually sexual) stuff, and they’d try to trick you into saying something with those words. Sometimes they were normal words, sometimes they were words in other languages that they used to sexually harass you without consequences because the teacher didn’t understand. Another time this kid asked me out as a joke. Both the code words and the kid asking me out make it really hard to trust people and I worry a lot whether something I said means something bad that I don’t worry about.

    One time I got frustrated in class and started crying, and the teacher yelled at me in front of the entire class that I had no right to cry and only he did because his mother died, so I ran out of the class. He claimed I threw a chair at him, and to this day people talk about it behind my back. It makes things hard to be the kid who throws chairs at people.

    • That teacher sounds disturbed. He should have comforted you. I’m so sorry you had to go through that! You deserve better.

  14. I feel like I can easily start a conversation but don’t know when to stop. I believe this is my turn off and I never truly make friends because of it. No one wants to see me coming. No one calls me. I’m not invited to events.

  15. As a child I was picked on and bullied alot. I remember one instant watching a kid say that it was my house and the young mother telling the kid to hold his breath past it. I was the local joke. Some of my friends would not be friends in public.

    • That was just so mean. Big hugs to you. People always say stuff like kids are pure and lovable, but I disagree. From your experience and my personal experience, kids are very straightforward in saying impolite things and outright rude at times. I don’t know whether it’s due to my childhood experience with my peers but I still have a bit of fear at the back of my mind when I get to talk with kids even as an adult now.

  16. I was a loner, very few friends. I was bullied at school and always felt isolated. We lived in a different village to all the other children, so I was isolatedat home, as well.

    I have no social skills, whatsoever. No ability to converse with ohers, no idea of what to say, no idea of what is acceptable and what is too extreme.

    • Cheers, Tim. You can do it. I can do it. We all can do it. Please don’t give up hope. You are a very worthy person and I hope your life gets better.

  17. Thanks again David for sharing your story. Means a great deal to hear it from someone else.
    My story is pretty much the same as yours. I also had some friends despite my shyness but I always struggled to get accepted and “fit in”. I was always aware of that it would only take a small wrong step to be “a fully outsider”. I had a popular older sister in the same school and I believe sometimes, she was the reason I “passed through”. My parents also, in mild terms “forced” my sister (and me) to take me with her when she was going out with friends.
    Maby that was good in one way, but it also made me feel ashamed of myself, that she had to put up with me, her little stupid sister.
    As you, I was nervous about others talking behind my back. Sometimes, I know they did.
    Now, as a grown up I find myself being ok more often and that I am ok, at least at my work. But it only takes some whispering, silence or other subtle signs to make me insecure. Also I rarely dare to invite people, in case “they feel they have to” instead of wanting to hang out with me. So, I am better but I still have things I struggle with.
    Thank you again for sharing! / Ingrid

    • Thanks for sharing your story, Ingrid. I feel your struggles. I, too, felt the ‘inadequacy’ a lot. As an adult, I got most of it over just like you do but I get triggered with those little whispers and other subtle social cues. I’m glad that I’m not the only one feeling this way.

  18. Growing up as a quiet child and teenager has affected me later in life. I’ve become a bit of an introvert and now want to have meaningful conversations with people but I find it difficult. I have a conversation once with someone about what I do, but next time I see them I struggle.

    I am wanting to move on with my life and settle down again but finding it difficult.

  19. Thank you for sharing what you went through in school. My family moved a lot while I was growing up and I was always the new kid. This taught me to be outgoing and make the first move to make friends, but looking back. I think slowly began to withdraw because of the pain of having to say goodbye all the time. So I struggle now getting close friends. Thank you again for sharing. I think your advice will help a lot of people who struggle with this
    God Bless you
    Robert

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