WHY NOT ME? 7 Questions to Ask Yourself When You are Feeling Left Out.

“The only thing worse than not knowing where she belonged...was knowing where she didn't.”.png

"The only thing worse than not knowing where she belonged...was knowing where she didn't."

-Tess Shaffer, Heaven Has No Regrets

   If you ever felt "left out" of a social group, you are NOT alone. Many of us have experienced the pain of being excluded. A question we often will ask ourselves is, "Why not me?" We want to understand why we are not being chosen to be in a specific friend group.

Here are 7 questions that will help you navigate feeling left out:

QUESTION 1 - Do I really want to be included?

        Even as adults, we still secretly wish to be apart of the "cool group". We think that if we are hanging with the "popular people" we may find validation for ourselves: "If the cool people are inviting me to their barbecues, I'm must doing okay."

        I remember a group of young women getting together to go see a movie. They did not invite me and if I'm honest, I was a little hurt. They were young and hip and I worked alongside them every day. Why did they not consider me to be a part of their group?  I cried to my husband and he asked me a simple question "Did you really want to see that movie at midnight?"  I didn't. Sometimes we need to realize that not every group is a perfect fit. And that is okay. It has no reflection on our worth or validity as human. It simply is not a match.

QUESTION 2 - What are the benefits of being included in this group?

   When we recognize the benefits (or lack thereof)  of being a part of the specific group, we can decide if it's worth taking the extra steps towards connecting with this group. A friend of mine had joined a Bible Study a few months back. When she learned that many of women in the group had a friendship outside of the study, she worried that she was being excluded from coffee dates and dinners, etc. She said, "Noelle, I know that if I was better friends with these women, my faith would strengthen." She recognized that there was a benefit of being included in the additional activities these women were doing together. 

   Not all social groups are beneficial. For example, I had heard of a local Book Club that I was hoping to be invited too. When I really thought about it, I knew that Book Club would be more of a burden than a benefit due to my current time commitments. This doesn't mean that the Book Club is a bad social group. It is simply not beneficially to me at this moment.

QUESTION 3 -  Have I taken steps toward connecting with people in this circle of friends?

     I remember having tea with a woman who was sharing with me how hurt she was because a specific group at her church had not invited her to their weekly "Moms-Get-Together." I was shocked since I knew some of these women personally and would not have considered them to be exclusive. I asked this woman, "Have you invited any them to your home or have you spoken to them after church?" She told me, "No. I doubt they would want to come to my house. Why would I go talk to them if they won't talk to me?" 

     We need to let people know that we want to connect them. We do this by "invitation". If there is a group of women that we want to connect to, why not invite them into our home for brunch? If there is a circle of friends that we would like to be a part of, why not walk over to them and strike up a conversation? We need to be willing to be the first one to take steps towards connecting. Most people are not intentionally exclusive. They simply are not aware you want to be friends with them unless you make it known.

QUESTION 4 - Have I been invited before and have declined?

     A few years back, there was a group of folks who would get together fairly regularly for barbecues.  Nearly every Sunday, they would invite my husband and me to join them. It was a group made up of people who did not have children, so it would have been awkward to drag our two wild kids along (even though these wonderful folk said they were welcomed to come). We always declined their warm invitation and eventually, they stopped inviting us. When I realized this I felt rejected! Once again, I cried to my husband and said, "Look how they have rejected us from the group! It's because we have kids!" He laughed and pulled me into his arms and said, "No. I think you have this wrong. We have been rejecting them."

     It is important to realize that when we continuously decline an invitation from a person or group, they may believe we don't want to be included. If this is the case, we either must accept that we do not have to be included or we must willing to address the fact that we want to be included.

QUESTION 5 - Are there unresolved issues between myself and specific people in this social group?

    This question can feel like an awkward one but it is an important one to consider. We need to understand that tension will always make room for exclusion if we are not willing to tackle it head on.

    A young woman told me about a time when she and her boyfriend of several years had broken up. They both attended the same church and social activities soon became awkward. She had been invited to some of the gatherings but not others... because he would be there. Though her friends at church were trying to protect her, she felt excluded during a very painful time of her life. She finally sat her friends down and said, "I want you to feel free to invite me to any gathering that you have invited him." Her vulnerability and willingness to address the elephant in the room brought the solution to reconnecting with her friends after the break-up.

QUESTION 6 -  What insecurity within myself is being highlighted by the exclusion?

      Pain, if we allow it, can often be an opportunity for self-growth. When we are excluded, insecurities rush to the surface of our heart. This becomes an opportunity for us to address the lies we have believed about ourselves. 

     I once found out that a group of moms I knew had Starbucks together every Friday. I cried buckets over this. They hadn't invited me to join them and I believed it was because they thought I was a bad mother. The truth was that I was feeling insecure as mother and that I believed I was a bad mother. I was able to attack this lie, with truth: I am not a bad mother. This is not the reason why I have not been invited to weekly Starbucks with the other moms.

   Sure enough, one of the moms in the group invited me along to join the weekly date at  "Starbucks". She thought I worked on Fridays and would be able to join them. I was glad that I had the opportunity to address my insecurities and grow as a person. 

QUESTION 7 -  Are there others that I can befriend and include in my circle?

   Let's be honest for a hot second here. We need to stop always waiting for someone to befriend us and invite us into the circle. In fact, being left out of a particular circle of people could be just the gift we need to find our true tribe!  We need to open our eyes and look for the women who seem like they are on the fringe. Who is standing alone? Who doesn't have anyone to talk to? Who is the new girl? Who is the person who no one else is inviting? Let's befriend her! Let's be willing to gather our own circle of women who we can love and be loved by. Being left out does not have to be a permanent destination of our social life. We can be the one who "lets others in" and in turn, find true connection and meaningful friendship! 

Your friend,

Noelle


ABOUT NOELLE

 Noelle is a researcher, speaker, and podcaster. She is the podcast producer/host for Friending Podcast and is a regular co-host for the podcast, Slices of Life. She lives in North Jersey with her hot husband and two wild children. She is a big fan of Constant Comment Tea, the Oscars, and Lesley Knope.

      Noelle is passionate about helping women empower women through the art of friendship.

   For more random facts on Noelle you can click here or stalk her on Instagram.


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