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Why do I act so differently around my family?

Growing up in my family, I've always been known as the quiet one and the one who is hard to read. I have a brother and sister, one older and one younger and they are both extremely outgoing and wear all their thoughts and emotions on their sleeve. I, on the other hand, tend to be more quiet and reserved but I do have a tendency to have outbursts since I am not always expressing myself like my brother and sister would be. Growing up this was always the case. I don't know if as the middle child between two large personalities, I have taken on this role of "listen and not be heard" because they're always dominating the conversation and space. I love them both so much and envy their ability to always spark a conversation. Over the last few years I am finding it harder and harder to be a part of family gatherings because I am feeling instantly overwhelmed by their presence (everyone) and I always feel like the "doom and gloom" because I'm either quiet or can't find a lot to say. No one wants to hang around the awkward and quiet person, and I get that! We've always joked around about our parent's "favourite children" and what the lineage would be. It's always the same: my sister, my brother then myself. I can tell that my parents are always excited to see my siblings and when it's just me with them, they're always talking about them. It is apparent that they would rather spend their time with them, and I do honestly, get that. I don't see myself as someone fun to hang with. The interesting thing about all of this, is that when I'm with my friends and at work, it is literally the opposite. I am known as the glue who keeps my friends together and the one they regularly feel comfortable and confide in. Much to my surprise, I am known as the "positive and easygoing one" at work, when things couldn't be more different when I'm with my family. I'm unsure what to do. It is so hard to try and change my perspective and demeanour and I have tried to be more conscious of it, but I almost feel defeated and lost the moment I am with my family. They don't treat me poorly by any means, but I can just feel how different I am and out of place I feel. I often just think their gatherings are better off without me and not much would be lost without me there. I don't feel overly bad or sad about it, but just feel like it might be the right thing to do. Should I be trying to fit it and make them feel better and more comfortable around me? Should I keep my distance? I can feel myself almost building up an anxiety to be with them, even though I enjoy their company so much. I just don't feel it's reciprocated.
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Avatar universal
Ah, families.  Okay, here's the thing -- families are artificial communities we don't choose.  We are not only born into them whether we like the one we're in or not or they like us but we are also propagandized by religion and society to believe family is a sacred gathering.  All of this is nonsense, but it's out there and we're all subject to it and it's very hard to escape.  In the real world, quiet and "awkward" people are often the most attractive because they are the most actually interesting people to get to know because you can't read them easily.  Easily outgoing people are easy to be with, but they also know this and that can lead to superficiality.  Or not.  What I'm saying is, your real family in life is your friends and the people you choose to be with and who choose to be with you.  When family works it's really great but it just usually doesn't for at least someone in the family because, again, we're stuck with it, we don't choose it.  So if family doesn't fulfill your needs, your friends and people you work with probably will.  That's also who you will spend most of your life with, not your family, unless you're unwillingly stuck with family.  But that being said, life is better when we do get along with family if it's possible.  In your case, it doesn't appear anyone in your family is avoiding you.  It appears, and this is just from your post, I'm not there, that you are making assumptions about what your family thinks of you and those assumptions might be completely false.  When you're not there, your parents may be speaking only about you, you don't know.  It might be a quirk of their personalities.  You'll never really know for certain who the favorite is because what people say or joke about isn't necessarily what they actually feel.  You'll never know that, assuming there is a favorite at all.  People in gatherings, including family, will always stake out a territory, and that makes it a ballgame, you know?  If we were all the same life would be dull.  So it's possible everything you said here is in your head and not real, and that might indicate insecurity or some other mental habit that is more important to be concerned about than what family members think of you or don't think of you.  You also evince some jealousy, another sign of insecurity.  We all have some of it, and now you get to learn to rise above it and leave it behind.  What a stroke of luck, you get to grow in a way you might not if you were that outgoing person who never had to work at it.  Peace.
1 Comments
Thanks for your thoughtful reply :) It’s leaving me with a lot to think about. Thank god for people like you who take the time to read and respond. I really, really appreciate it. <3 Thank you!
973741 tn?1342342773
Argh, family can be hard.  First, let me say that your assumption that other 'larger' personalities don't want to hang around the quiet ones is likely false.  They someone to DAZZLE that isn't competing for the lime light!!  You are in the power position, really.  Introverts are always more powerful than extroverts. I'm one too. We get our energy from within. They need others to get it.  

Family roles are hard to break out of sometimes.  And they seem a little inconsiderate that they aren't 'trying' to hear you.  But it is great to hear that you feel more comfortable and social in your life away from them!  Keep that up.  You don't have to go to everything if you don't want to with your family.  :>)  Pick and choose. NOT because they don't want you there.  I am positive they do.  But because you don't love it. So, you go occasionally and take them in smaller doses.  Families don't define us.  You define yourself. And you sound alright to me!  Remember, WE (introverts) are powerful.  They (extroverts) need us.
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