No-one wants to practice with me
I practiced aikido for 6 years as a teenager/young adult. A few months ago, after spending 4 years off the mat and moving to another city, I decided to start it again. I've found the art itself fascinating, but I'm discouraged by the fact that no-one in my club wants to practice with me. When it's time to choose your partner, everyone turns away from me and tries to bow to someone else. When I try to be fast, the others are usually faster or pretend that they don't notice me (sometimes it's so obvious that it makes me want to cry). So, over 90% of the time I'm the last one who gets a partner and when there's an odd amount of us, I have to join an already-formed pair.
At first I didn't understand it at all. Why did everyone avoid me? What was wrong with me? Then I started to notice a pattern: In this club people just want to practice with their own friends, those they get well along with off the mat. For example, "Tom", "John" and "Sam" are very good friends and maybe 80-90% of the time two of them practice together. "Tom" also likes to practice with "Bob", but I don't think I've ever seen him practicing with "Dan" or "Steve". Situations like that are common in this club, so I'm probably avoided just because I don't have any friends there. Unfortunately I have social anxiety disorder (kind of an extreme form of shyness) and I'm unable to join group conversations even if I want to.
I'm going to quit aikido. I'd really love to learn more about the art, but there are no other aikido clubs in the area and being rejected all the time... It hurts. Sure, I understand it's nicer to practice with a good friend than a relative stranger, but doesn't any one of them ever stop to think about how it makes the others feel? Has anyone even noticed that I'm almost always the last one without a pair, or are they all too busy having fun with their friends to pay attention to such things?
In my previous aikido club we were always encouraged to practice with as many different people as possible, including those we didn't get especially well along with. Our sensei kept saying that it makes wonders for your technique and personal growth. I don't know if it was really true, but I do know that that's the kind of an environment where I want to practice. So, I'm trying to find another art, one I can practice without feeling constantly unwanted. I've already visited a few other dojos and the last one looked promising. I hope I'll have better luck there.