I'll state upfront that this post may sound a little like a pity party. I don't mean it that way. I'm not wallowing, just trying to make sense of something that has bothered me for many years.
I've never been the cool kid. When I was younger I figured it was because I didn't go to the same school as everyone else, or because I was a bit of a geek, but even in adulthood it seems I lack some prerequisite coolness gene or something. I do have close friends, but they are few and scattered across the continent. I have many local associates, but when the chips are down, very few of them seem to stand up as true friends.
Is this because I've moved so far from where I grew up? I don't think so. I had a few friends in my youth, but haven't remained that close to any of them in adulthood. I'm sure part of that is a lack of effort on my part...but I've never felt much reciprocal effort either. I suppose that after so many years of perceived rejection I've developed a habit of not trying very hard.
This fall it came to a head again when we held our annual pie night, and had very low attendance. Some of this was due to a little invitation fiasco (not as many people got invited as I'd intended), but our guests were still a small fraction of even what I'd expected. I could say it's just their loss (we had some good pies!) but this seems to be the story of my life--I plan special events, and then nobody comes.
My wedding reception? A quarter of what we'd expected (there was SO much leftover cake). It could be blamed on being 6 days before Christmas, but a friend of mine got married a week later (2 days after Christmas) and I hear her reception was very well attended.
When I was 9, my mom and I planned a really spectacular medieval-themed birthday party, and nobody came. Nobody. I remember that we'd been nervous that people might not understand the themed invitations, so we wrote that "the celebration of Lady Jenni's birthday" would begin at "ten bells (10am)" to make sure it was clear. (I remember telling her that I thought "ten bells" was pretty obvious, and that adding the "10am" bit was overkill.) On the appointed morning, 10am came and went, and nobody showed up. So my mom started calling people. I think she was able to round up two people to come and play games and share cake, but they didn't bring presents, because they hadn't known it was my party. (I suppose maybe I was too big a geek with the themed invitations...but is it really so hard to call and ask if you're confused? Our family always did themed parties!)
How about when I was 16. I was too old for parent-subsidized parties, but I spent hours making a cake and used my meager income to purchase other goodies for a sleepover. Several girls came, but none of them could spend the night. When my sister had her 16th birthday slumber party? She had a dozen girls. It's not just that my family was uncool; it was me.
Last summer solstice we planned a bonfire on the beach and invited many friends. One couple came. Just one. I've thrown tupperware parties and pampered chef parties, and always the attendance is so low that I end up making hefty purchases myself so that I can reach the minimum party sales amount to get any free stuff. Even adulthood hasn't made me cool.
I always appreciate those who do come, but I always wonder why it is that there are always so few. I invite lots of people. I try to schedule at convenient times. I give plenty of notice.
I can only conclude that the deciding factor is ME.
I've always walked to my own beat, and I'm ok with that. But sometimes I do get really lonely out here. And on those occasions when I try to reach out--to host celebrations--I wish that more people would come celebrate with me, even if I'm too weird for them the rest of the time. Come for the food if nothing else, I do have a reputation for doing that well!