In sixth grade, I would need five sets of hands to count all of my friends.  Maybe they were forced friendships because of sports teams or girl scouts or because parents made their children invite everyone in their class to birthday parties but I was pretty content with having all of those people.  I was still shy, sure, but I had the confidence level that I wish I had now.

Middle school came around and I could go a day without saying a word to anyone.  I was alone.  I had my friends, who had other friends and more exciting friends.  Lunch periods were spent laughing at what was coming out of other peoples mouths and if you ask me now I can probably still tell you a few stories.

In high school, nothing changed but my friend group.  I opened up sligtly, but it never seemed to be enough.  I’m still friends with them, and they’re some of my best friends.  But going into college, I wanted to change.  And it seemed like everyone wanted me to.  I was always told “You don’t have to be quiet anymore.  No one knows you.  Just open up.”  And so I tried.  And fell right back to where I was.  Right back to being me.

Something that didn’t change since sixth grade?  I wanted to be known one day.  I knew people didn’t know who I was even when I could tell you who they each dated during their freshman years or what homecoming dress they wore.  Maybe it’s because I was never noticed, but I still want my name to be read by millions as it sits right above each article I have the privilege of having published.

Anyways, people say they always want to find themselves.  Some have the “ah- ha” moments and others just realize their progress over time.  I had the “ah- ha” moment.  I wrote a piece for a club, while in college at HPU, on everything introverts (from my opinion) wanted everyone to know (click the link).  Examples are that we really do have a lot to say, that we don’t feel the need to share everything, and that sometimes there’s no reason to waste our breaths.  So, this article got shared from it’s platform on the Her Campus website, and was responded to by others who were just like me- people, fellow introverts, who felt the exact same way.  Some who I hadn’t talked to since sixth grade.

Before that, my parents shared my articles or liked them, but this time it stayed on the top most viewed list for longer.  And that’s when I realized, I had been heard and I was no longer alone.  There was no reason to walk into a new situation and think that I would be different because it wouldn’t be being me.  And I didn’t want to be anyone else, anyone I thought would be better, or anyone who would have it any easier than I felt I did.  I saw myself and smiled, and I knew that it was one of my smaller goals leading to something very rewarding in the future.

After the article was published, I went home from school on break and went out with my dad and my two sisters to a friends.  On our way back, the phrase “Allie didn’t talk” flowed from someone’s mouth.  And my dad, responded with “Yes, and I know exactly why”.

Very few people will understand who you are as a person.  You’ll be seen as weird, strange, someone who must’ve fallen from outer space and an outsider.  But there will be that one person who does.  And after years of feeling misunderstood by my family, someone listened and made me feel heard.

Usually I still get the comments that I should talk more and be more open but instead of stressing myself out and being so aware that I’m not who everyone is encouraging me to be, I’m aware that I’m me.  And everyone else is themselves.  And no one cares.