Rowland Carlson



Here I was, outsider by my own design. My friends and I were going to a weekend event in the next state. We booked shared hotel rooms and were looking to carpool to save on fuel. I wanted to travel with them, but I had to leave after work on Friday. I didn't want to hold up the group, so I chose to travel alone.

Throughout the weekend, I kept failing to meet my friends. I arrived at the hotel first. I had to talk my into the hotel room that was registered under my friend's name. Thankfully, they allowed me into the room. My friends wouldn’t arrive for another 2-3 hours. I missed them leaving the hotel for the event in the morning. I missed them getting together for lunch. I arrived at the restaurant for dinner first and spent 5 minutes thinking that I missed them again. I couldn't shake the feeling that I wasn't really a part of the group.

I had always felt like an outsider. I was homeschooled until High School, where I went to a charter school in the next county. I couldn’t stay for after-school activities because of an afternoon paper route. In college, I had more friends online than I did on campus. I was raised to think I was different, that I was “gifted”, but that only made me feel more alone.

It was Sunday when I realized what had been happening. I was talking with another friend about feeling left out. Reflecting on their stories, I could see my own experience in a new light. I chose to drive alone.

All of the misses and poor communication over the weekend could be tied back to this one decision. Growing up, things outside my control led to me being left out. But as I started to make my own decisions, I defaulted to keeping myself distant. I would turn down invitations. I would travel alone. I would reject ideas shared by the group. I had brought this upon myself.

But, if I chose to be an outsider. I could choose not to be an outsider.