So right after I started going to a new school in fourth grade, a kid I was talking to at recess said, in a very matter-of-fact tone, “You’ve probably figured out that nobody likes <girl>.”
I hadn’t, actually.
She seemed like a nice girl, and everyone seemed to be nice to her. There weren’t any obvious signs indicating her social standing – at least, that I could see. But then, I’ve always been pretty much socially oblivious; I generally don’t know people are even dating until they announce their engagement, and I’m always surprised to find that person X is friends with person Y (and that these groups of people actually get together and do stuff). If there’s a person that nobody likes, I usually have no clue. If there’s a person that everybody likes, I usually have no clue. During party postmortems or after church, when friends start talking about who was talking to/flirting with/standing entirely too close to/snubbing whom, I’m generally surprised to find out that any of these things were transpiring at all, much less right in front of me. Life in a singles ward is about as private as a fishbowl, but I’m still completely unaware of most of what’s going on socially. This astonishing cluelessness feels unusual to the point of downright odd.
It does have its benefits – I don’t get stuck listening to gossip (something I really, really, passionately hate), for example. And it provided a way to navigate those awkward wallflower years from ages 10 – 32 and counting; at some point in my excruciatingly shy teens or early 20s (a time when I referred to myself as a social maggot [I was no butterfly!]), I decided that trying to fit in was useless and I started pre-defensively just going off and doing my own thing, regardless of what everyone else was doing. But one reason I don’t notice what’s going on is that I still do this – and it’s still just as much a defense mechanism as ever. When I have to do what everyone else is doing, I start fretting over what I think/fear people think of me so much that I can’t really pay attention to anyone else.
But. Maybe if I overcame this self-absorption I’d not only start noticing social phenomena but also stop worrying so much about my own notoriety.