[quote="inspector_2211, post:1, topic:278026"]
I am 21 and attend a major university in Colorado.
I've never really fit in with the "jolly-go-get-em lets hold hands and sing" types of groups. I am a somewhat introverted person who prefers two or three REAL relationships over a group of 30 "friends". Weird I know. It gets worse. I prefer silent retreats over a summer camp style retreat with songs by the fire and dancing and the occasional outburst of tears during a late night group prayer session.
Oh jebus! I am filled with nausea as you describe the "let's hold hands and sing" and "occasional outburst of tears" crowd. I'm 26, so uni is behind me now, but your experience is familiar, although after becoming an orthodox Catholic some time during uni, I only started living more like a Catholic one or two years ago.
My inability to associate with the group on a whole left me looking for friends anywhere. Most college freshmen are concerned with only one or two things. Partying and not failing classes. I was attracted to the party scene out of curiosity as I had no prior exposure to it. Like I said, not a lot of challenges thrown at me in high school. Drinking with a group of people turns almost all of you into friends despite most differences. I enjoyed this and continued doing it. I did notice that I had a harder time hanging out with them during the week because my faith and their atheism (generalized but for the most part true) prevented us from being TRUE friends. I eventually found it easier to simply hang out, watch tv and go to the pool without ever really having to commit myself to the relationships. My ability to ignore the error in my ways was long lived: 3 years. Had you asked any of my "friends" to describe me Catholic would be the last word used. Not to say I was propagating evil, I just never truly said what was on my mind in situations a true catholic would have.
Now that I am done with the drinking and smoking (thanks to God's grace) I am trying to get back in with the "Catholic crowd" I find it harder than ever to relate. Most of them have never spent one year, let alone three, partying. They seem to not know how someone can even do it. They think people who smoke weed act like Cheech and Chong yet the times that I smoked often lead me to reflect on my life, beg God for forgiveness and pray for his mercy. We simply do not understand each other. I assure you, I wish I still had the innocence that they have. The fact that I don't makes them hard to hang out with.
You sound a bit like me. I can't relate to most faithful Catholics either. They're just too... well-adjusted. I mean, most can't relate to the messed up family situation I've had throughout my life. And sex, alcohol, weed, amphetamine, opiates and cocaine were a regular part of my life for quite some time after I became an orthodox Catholic, although I was never wholeheartedly into these things because I too am rather introverted, though quite good at simulating extroversion.
Most people I call friends are actually friendly acquaintances who are atheists or agnostics, but of my truly close friends, one is an atheist and one a lapsed Protestant deist, and the latter is so close I'd trust the guy with my life. Neither are part of the party crowd and both are quite introverted. They're not kumbaya touchy-feely mugs either, and so they're actually quite down to earth. And personality-wise, they're a lot more like me, so in practice, we have more to offer each other in terms of support and understanding. And despite sin and all, in a secular sense, they are really, really good guys.
Much like what you said, the "friendly acquaintances" don't really know I'm a practising Catholic - though they know I'm some sort of theist and Christian sympathiser. My closest friends are well aware of my Catholicism and accept me as a Catholic and know me from before I became a Christian. And when my atheist friend suggests that we go and eat fish because it's Friday, I know I've got a good guy on my hands. So, I mean, I couldn't ask for better friends, and the difference in faith is not much of a barrier for me. At least I can relate to these guys.
So I don't know what to say, really. I can relate to being unable to relate to Catholics, but it's not a problem for me. I was secular before I became Catholic. I have only ever had secular friends and I could never relate to Christians, but I'm not too bothered by it because my close friends who are secular have shown me a decade or more of loyalty and are better friends to me than most of the Catholics I've met are likely to have been. With regard to close friendships, I'm more concerned with loyalty, strong principles and reciprocal concern for my well-being than I am about the religious beliefs of the person. If I chose to hang with the Catholic crowd, it would most likely be on the "friendly acquaintance" level and I don't think I could be fully comfortable. I've never had a "goodie two-shoes" sort of personality, and even though nowadays I strive with God's grace to be holy, I think I will always feel more comfortable around those with whom I share a mischievous (which doesn't necessarily mean sinful) personality, and it just so happens that most people I've met who I can relate to on that level are not Catholic.
However, we naughty but orthodox Catholics certainly are out there, as your post indicates. But in my experience, having close secular friends should in no way impede you in your faith provided they respect it. Not all secular people are uninhibited hedonists verging on alcoholism, so in your shoes, I'd feel free to hang out with people who I felt most comfortable with, provided they weren't a negative influence. But I can't really give more advice than that.