Sometimes I feel like an outsider, even when I’m with my closest friends, and most of my closest friends are SSDPers. While I usually feel like I could talk to everyone all night when I see my SSDP framily, there are many times when I’m not connecting with anyone and feel isolated in a room full of friends. I feel out of place at SSDP gatherings more often than you might think. Sometimes when I feel this way, I manage to find something to mitigate my social anxieties – a job to occupy my body and therefore quiet my mind, a circle where one of the great conversationalists of SSDP is telling an engaging story, or someone with whom I can silently sit in a corner, observe the party, and not feel awkward in the silence. Sometimes I don’t find my place. But that’s OK. Not everyone feels comfortable in a group of friends all the time. Right? I know I’m not alone in feeling this way, and I’m beginning to think the majority of people feel this way, we just don’t talk about it much. What makes SSDP special is even in these awkward moments, I know the feeling will pass. For even when I feel like an outsider in the moment, I know I’m loved by this wonderful group of people. I know I can count on you all in my times of need (and when it’s time to celebrate, too). I know my feelings are rooted in my own anxieties, in my difficulty with sparking conversation, in my struggle between wanting to be around everyone at once but also be alone or with a small group. What makes SSDP special is I feel comfortable sharing these experiences with you in a public space because this community is so supportive and open and loving. And I know you’d still love me, even if I disappeared for a while, for we are SSDPers, and the SSDP bond is stronger than time. This is one of the many reasons why I love SSDP and decided to become engaged as an alum. This blog post is part of our annual SSDP Alumni Association membership drive. Join the Alumni Association before the end of the day today and be entered to win a free SSDP2018 conference registration or a $50 Amazon gift card!