I can think back to when I was a little girl, around about 7 and I was sat at a table with my friends in the canteen at school and they all had finished their lunches. I heard one say “shall we go?” and another looked at me and said “sorry, *insert my name here*” and then they all got up left me sitting alone at the table. The feeling I had when they left me is something I can still remember. A sick feeling and overwhelming sadness with panic thrown in there too. I sat there holding my jaffa cakes and crying. The dinner ladies came over and comforted me and then asked some other kids I knew less well if I could sit with them and they said yes so I sat with them and I felt better. I think it’s a memory that I will always remember, the feeling of being abandoned and not feeling like I was worthy enough, interesting or funny enough for my friends to care about my feelings.

I’ve always had very close friends through out my life and though I have had some of best friendships I think I could have but I have often felt like I wasn’t accepted in social groups in classes at school and amongst workmates. I wasn’t sure why it is, I knew I was friendly and I could be incredibly loud and funny, I was labelled “the funny one” by a friend’s older brother no less. But it didn’t translate well to some people. I realised that these people who didn’t see this side of me were people that I didn’t trust. I didn’t trust them to understand my view points and opinions and I didn’t want them to get to know my personality because something about them didn’t sit well with me. I have been seen as reserved and shy by some and bubbly and chatty by others. In a situation where I was around some people I didn’t trust and those that I do, the reserved side won out which is a shame. I don’t want to be a reserved and quiet person but something stalls in me around some people. I feel like I had the potential to be popular and well liked by most but the idea of people judging me badly has meant that I kept my mouth shut much more than I wanted to.

I was bullied a lot through out my life from Primary school to Secondary for being quiet and considered as intelligent and a “goody two shoes” and as an adult I have felt like I wasn’t quite accepted by some other girls for not being as flirty and sexy as they are.

I think what stood out for me this year is that in the job I recently left I actually felt more accepted by my workmates than anywhere else. A mixture of people from different ages and backgrounds, I had opened up to everyone at some point and to some people I revealed my past mental health troubles and current anxiety. I didn’t stay quiet and I didn’t hide myself though it didn’t happen straight away with some. Although this wasn’t the right opportunity for me, I made some friendships which I think will last. Having moved jobs so much and being in environments where there was no one my age/stage of life I haven’t made many friendships since leaving University and in such an organic way.

In my last job I met the sweetest friend who messaged me “I’ve never met anybody who has understood the way I feel about things in the way you do. When you talk about how you feel, it’s like hearing myself think. I’m so glad to have met a friend like you”. I was truly touched by this and I have my flaws but I’m proud I can relate to people in such real and beautiful way.

Above is the leaving present of very posh biscuits, nougat and card I received- a reminder that I mattered to those people and I was worthy of their time and effort.

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