This blog post has been stirring in my heart for a very long time. It hasn’t been until recently though, that I’ve been able to get it all down in writing. I thought I might share my thoughts, as this seems to be ever present even still today at my ripe old age of (almost) thirty-two.
If ever there was anything that made someone feel unimportant, being excluded from a group of girls would be at the top of the list, wouldn’t it? No matter our age, nothing really communicates you’re not valuable quite like the feeling of being left out. I have so many witty, sarcastic remarks flashing through my mind when I think about cliques and how outrageously ridiculous they are to me, HOWEVER, that isn’t productive and it takes away from my ultimate point. It’s hurtful to many, I see that often and that really irks me. I want to give voice to that. That’s what stirs my frustration and the prompting to write about it. Now that that’s out of the way, I have a few personal thoughts to share with those who have ever felt the sting of being brushed aside.
Outsiders, take heart. Here are some things to consider.
Consider the history of where others came from. When I see these sorts of things play out, I always try to give those involved the benefit of the doubt. When we lack the capacity to look outside ourselves and involve others, there’s something below the surface that’s happening. Somewhere along the line we’ve lost sight of what’s important. So instead of getting mad (most of the time) I sorta just feel bad for these types of situations. There’s a really good chance that those who are very exclusive have experienced disappointment, and hurt in other relationships and this is the default. Having control of a friend group is a safety net. Not always, but a lot of times, it’s insecurities fleshed out in friendships that tend to typically be only skin deep, rarely penetrating any real substance. Like most things in life, it’s hardly ever what it seems on the outside. So be encouraged, you’re probably not missing out on much anyways.
The best response? Continue to love on them. Don’t be weird, just be kind. Be the example you’d like to see.
And remember. Being uninvited is okay! In fact, it can really serve as a spring board to challenge yourself. Celebrate your strengths and use that to make people feel included. Not being included in the “cool group” doesn’t mean a thing in the real world. People, especially women, crave authenticity. When we’re authentic, we can’t lose. It brings stability and longevity to our relationships. If we want to build a solid group of friends who operate in the mindset of reaching out and welcoming others, authenticity is the place to start.
Counter act the dreaded clique. Find women who seem to be vulnerable, or by themselves a lot. Women who seem to be spread thin and could really use some encouragement. Be intentional about noticing others and making them feel important. Tell them you’re glad to see them or high five them for a job well done. Look for opportunties to pull others in and let them know they matter.
Talk to your daughters about this. Teach them at a young age that others are important. Make sure they understand that they aren’t better or more important than anyone, that everyone’s feelings are important and everyone deserves our respect. And as a necessary after thought to that, for the love of all things, PLEASE DON’T RAISE ENTITLED CHILDREN. We do our children such a disservice when we teach them that the world revolves around them. We combat entitlement with putting others ahead of ourselves (easier said than done, right?) and learning empathy at a young age. Our children are going to model after our behavior. We can talk to them all day long, but what matters is what they’re seeing manifested in our lives. If we’re aware of our surroundings and those we encounter, there’s a good chance they’ll pick up on that and model it as well.
Lastly, I write these things not because I have it all figured out or because I’m raising perfect children. PLEASE. I write these things because these are things the Lord has taught me or is continuing to teach me. We’re all selfish and self centered by nature, and I’m no exception. It takes work and commitment to not be a jerk. It takes being aware, and being intentional. I stumble through this every day. My prayer as always would be that we all get a little better each day at loving others and reflecting The Light of Jesus in our lives. We can’t do that when our lives revolve around ourselves. Get out toady and make someone feel included!
“Instead of becoming bitter and resentful about how you’ve been mistreated, choose to do for another what you wish someone had done for you.” –Christine Caine