We were planning to attend a party on a Saturday afternoon. I remembered from a previous year, and a previous weekend, that my son had been the littlest guy there and the monkey in the middle. Wanting to be of “help”, I said that I too felt like an outsider in groups sometimes and secretly wanted to be included. I said, “Lets think of ways that we can make a choice or do something to help ourselves”. And we did.
Eamon went right in for the bold approach. He said he could just go right up and say, “Can I play with you?” Of course, why wouldn’t you do the obvious? I was more for the over-think it route and said, “Maybe I could figure out why being included meant so much to me.”
There was this ski trip in high school I couldn’t go on, primarily because we didn’t have the money to send me. I was so riddled with sorrow and envy looking at those pictures of that trip in the yearbook. The pain of exclusion was like silly putty in my brain as I kneaded it and pressed it against the picture. While I will always remember the trip I couldn’t take, those who went on the trip have probably forgotten all about it.
So what are we doing when we feel excluded and don’t want to include ourselves? Part of me assumes they wouldn’t want me to join them. Smell the low self-esteem? And then I get to jump two spaces up to the part where I didn’t have to risk finding out if this were true. Because of course I didn’t belong anyway. And see, I just excluded myself. When I told this story to two different women, they both agreed that they too have a problem with feeling left out of groups today as well. Like some haunting prophecy from high school.
We’ve named it, now what? We recognize that we may believe something and then create the outcome we expect. If I thought I wouldn’t be included, then I never asked to be. Asking to be included would come from a feeling of entitlement of being liked. Of knowing I was worth knowing. So I say let’s act as if. Act as if we are the best person they’ve not met yet. Assume that we’ll be immediately accepted into whatever activity we are interested in participating in. Maybe I could even make my own group that other people would want to join.
Why is the acceptance of a group important. The smarty pants me says, am I looking for legitimization? Will I become solid instead of transparent? And what if being a part of that group isn’t really all I thought it would be? But the sensible me says that those are cop-outs. So having weighed the facts, I still say having new friends is always worth it. And if these people are rude or don’t include, go see those people over there. Because chances are, it’s not you, it was them anyway.