Last weekend I went to a conference on meeting the social emotional needs of the gifted (SENG). I found it rather funny to observe that in a conference full of self identified outsiders, I still felt like an outsider. This may surprise some because I am an extrovert and I enjoy social connection immensely, but in the vast majority of settings there is often a small part of me that feels a little on the fringe.
I believe there are two major factors to this. One, as a highly excitable person I experience the world in a different way than many because my "filters" don't work the same as others. Not only do I take things in differently, but I also have trouble filtering what comes out. This makes me wary when in a new setting lest I say too much and turn people off. I am also picking up cues from other people and I have a hard time shaking the feeling that if something feels "off" it must be about me, though I realize that there could be any number of factors at play that have absolutely nothing to do with me.
The other piece that makes it hard to connect in a group is that I am a multipotentialite, which means that I have multiple potential interests. Because of this I have trouble relating to any group that focuses on any one aspect of identity. Consciously I know that most people have varied interests and just because a group gathers around one in particular, doesn't mean that's the only thing they are into. Still, I tend to find myself drawn to people who don't quite fit in to any one group, or the spouses of group members.
I came to realize about a year ago, that the only groups I felt 100% a part of were groups that I had a hand in developing. This is not because I don't enjoy groups that already exist, but because I'm never quite sure what other people in a group might think of me. If I initiate activities and invite people to join, then I can be fairly confident that those people enjoy my company, or at least get something out of it. This has worked out fairly well for me so far and I have a pretty solid foundation of very supportive friends.
If you are highly excitable, it helps greatly to find connection with other excitable or spirited people. Even if you find just one or two people with whom you feel truly at ease, your chances increase with activities that draw the highly excitable. Some places where I've found such connections include:
Creative groups - Imaginationally excitable people are drawn to creative activities. For myself, I've found connection in the theatre community as there are a lot of highly spirited and engaging people involved.
Spiritual groups - I grew up in the Unitarian Universalist church, and it is through that community that I've found my strongest bonds. It tends to draw an unconventional and intellectual crowd. There are lots of other groups that gather around a common spiritual theme that don't require organized religion as well.
Fantasy groups - This can be anything from Renaissance fairs to comic or cosplay conventions. The imaginationally and intellectually excitable are drawn to fantasy activities of all kinds.
Online groups - Though social media does have its troubles, one of the great things I've found about it is that people with vastly specific interests can connect with other people with those same interests. Recently I found the Puttytribe, which is a forum especially for multipotentialites.
These are just a few groups that come to mind for me. Where do you find spirited connection?
Photos courtesy of Guy Holtzman Photography