Sometimes, in life, it can be difficult to get a word in edgewise.

If you’ve read this blog for any length of time, you know that I’ve spoken about difficulties with individuals who find me too loud, too extroverted, too overbearing, or simply too much, in one way or another. As a result, I’ve tried to work on becoming a better listener and a more patient person, although neither come naturally to me, as a highly reactive person.

And, yet, it seems I can’t please anyone with my style of communication. Either people are tired of hearing from me, or I feel frustrated that I am not being heard, that I am not important enough to validate or to consider I might have a worthwhile opinion, story, or even an answer to a question.

Recently, The Guy I Am Currently Dating has repeatedly mentioned (at least twice in the past two weeks)that I “tell X,Y,Z to every person I know”, making me feel highly invalidated, as if he’s become so bored with me that he can’t stand to hear me go on about the same things for another day. Finally, I asked him if he’s so bored with my stories, why is he still bothering to converse with me? He apologised, but it still ended up making me feel extremely self-conscious, as if I truly don’t have anything witty or interesting to contribute to the world, other than repeating the same stories to new audiences.

Then, last night at trivia, The Guy I Am Currently Dating and I were playing with the same friends we always play trivia with, a married couple relatively close to my age with whom we get along well. Except, yesterday, while we were all debating a question, I wasn’t even allowed to express my opinion. It wasn’t an opinion, even, but more a point that I was confused on what my teammate was saying. I wasn’t the only one. Others were confused, too. But this friend didn’t want to hear my feedback, so he put up his hand and simply told me to “Shhh.’ (incidentally, none of us knew to correct answer.) I was very hurt and angry with this person for the rest of trivia.

It didn’t help that after trivia, sitting and talking to a group of guys that play on teams we compete against, I felt frustrated because I couldn’t get a word in edgewise. Every time I tried to contribute to the conversation, ask a question, or share a related anecdote, someone else would talk, as if I weren’t even there. I finally just got my stuff and started to head out, because, really, what’s the point of conversation with people who don’t find you interesting enough to listen?

Today, we went to a Meetup that The Guy I Am Currently Dating organizes, which is for fans of a sci-fi show. I don’t particularly care for sci-fi, and I’ve not always found it the easiest to make friends in this group. In fact, in the past, I actually made enemies. (I didn’t do anything but show up, so I don’t really know how that happened.) However, slowly but surely, I’ve been working on trying to get to know people, although virtually everyone seems to be rather opposite of me in personality and on the level of interests/hobbies. At least I no longer sit there in silence for 3 hours once a month, as I did the first year of coming to the group.

But when I was talking, I guy I barely know replied to something I said with, “Wow, that’s really self-centered. I know you admit to being a narcissist and you like being the centre of attention, but that’s pretty self-centered.”

It took all the willpower in the world not to just get up and leave. If I’d have attended that event alone, I probably would have. I’ve known this guy from this group throughout the 3 years I’ve been attending, and we’ve had maybe 5 conversations. None of them have allowed him to get to know me on any meaningful level, much less make judgements of my character or psychological makeup. This was especially offensive to me because what I was saying wasn’t self-centred at all, it had to do with me expressing an insecurity (specifically, I shared that when I was out with someone and they specifically asked me not to “check them in” on the FB app that does so, it made me feel as if they were ashamed to let the world know they were hanging out with me. Why? Because I’ve encountered people who have treated me that way.). So, it was actually a moment of human vulnerability and an attempt to connect as a real, honest human being—but of course, nobody could see beyond “That seems self-centred because that’s how Alayna is, based upon the absolutely NOTHING I know about her.”

No matter what I do, it seems I can’t win. It seems “being myself” is not only wrong most of the time, but I’m hard pressed to find people who find anything positive in the feelings I express, what I have to say, or the personality that I am. Even the douchebag at the club dismissed me as “bizarre” and “stuck in my own head” because he wasn’t interested or intelligent enough to engage in witty repartee when I offered it.

It seems like either people are forever judging me, telling me to shut up, pointing out how I have nothing to offer of substance, or simply not listening…so the question is, why do I even try? Why do I have an internal need to express myself to a world that simply doesn’t care a great majority of the time? Even many of my close friends admit to not reading this blog because “it’s too long” or “too intense”.

Why is it so hard to find someone on my wavelength, someone who actually enjoys my conversation, and recognises that I’m a smart, authentic, vulnerable person? If you take the time to not judge a book by its cover, you’d find out I’m more than entertaining, snarky, and narcissistic. And, yes, if you hang out with me long enough, you’re going to hear some of the same stories repeated, which is a hazard of hanging out with the kind of person who meets 500 new people a year. It doesn’t mean I tell everything about me to everyone I meet. In fact, there’s plenty I tell no one, not even those who spend three years hanging out with me.

The more people I meet, the more I realise that I don’t really relate to most of them, and most of them in turn judge me fairly incorrectly. It’s not a new problem. I’ve suffered from being chronically misunderstood my whole life. I remember sitting on the couch with an ex, who was then not an ex, shortly after moving to Atlanta, and I made a witty comment. He laughed and looked surprised. When I asked what was up, he said, “You surprised me, because I never knew you were witty.”

We’d been together at least 9 months.

I, of course, smiled and said nothing, but in my head, I thought, “How can this person possibly be my soulmate?”

There was an easy answer to that, of course, although it isn’t the one I wanted to hear.

Likewise, I often wonder how I can spend time routinely with so many “friends” and acquaintances that just don’t get me, aren’t interested in getting me, or are so convinced that the one side of me they see is all there is that they’re not interested in getting to know the others.

Because I am interesting. I am smart. I am witty. I do have interesting stories, and since I’ve met thousands of people in my lifetime, I will repeat them numerous times for the benefit of strangers and friends who know me, but not as well as they could. And it may make me narcissistic to say I’m worth shutting up and listening to now and again, and if you stopped judging and started listening, you might find a real person rather than an entertaining personality.

But, I guess that’s just me. After all, I’m pretty self-centred.