It happens so often these days: you join a group of people, co workers, or communities and then you get that little voice in your head: it crawls up on you when you realize that you haven’t been invited to the latest holiday party. Or maybe your coworkers are all talking about a project you’ve never heard of.
Then that little voice gets stronger and asks: “Am I being left out?”
The feeling of being left out is a pretty normal emotion to have. We want to be accepted by our peers and society. We try our best to be engaging, make friends, and be sociable – but sometimes it just doesn’t work.
It all starts when we are young, doesn’t it? Oh you know, the need to fit in during middle school and high school. But then you get into the “adult” world and suddenly making the right impression is everything.
Being honest and open with you: It’s happened to me and I’m pretty sure I’ve learned why = I’m unique and some people can’t appreciate that.
Lately, I’ve been feeling left out of a local group I was networking with (remember this post?). It was great at the start – in fact, it was perfect. My friend formed the group and I was really excited to join and learn from her as a starting entrepreneur. Other ladies were invited to this mastermind group and I definitely couldn’t wait to make friends! Over a few months I noticed that my influence with my newfound group of friends was only pulling certain people towards actually liking me – constantly reaching out, getting coffee, having chats, exchanging tips and tricks, etc.
Starting small was great! I didn’t mind that I was taking the time to connect with one person each day. I gave my opinions, complimented others, and would reach out to the best of my potential. Life happens too – somedays I couldn’t go on call (phone calls every week) and participate. And then I start noticing that I was considered competition by some people – from the comments, questions, and snide remarks I picked up on – and it was actually really sad to find out that they were only being friendly to find my weaknesses.
I got the wakeup call (literally) a few days ago: I was being left out on purpose. And you know when it happens too.
It’s very much like not getting the 100 faxes your boss sent all the other team members about the exciting new project. You just get a fax that says : Thanks for being an employee. We’ll keep you updated on all the new projects!
Well let me tell you: I was bummed. My experiences however, have led me to some great things to remember when I do feel left out. It’s easy for to be your own worse critic. Remember these five things when you get that feeling:
You Are Unique
Be unique and don’t let anyone tell you that different is bad. Frankly. I consider myself extremely unique and I know that it’s one of the factors that play into not being another robot in the sea of robots. If people can’t appreciate your differences then they aren’t worth your time.
Don’t Invest Yourself Unless Necessary
I probably should have been hesitant to join a networking group like that before I evaluated what I would get out of it. It’s a bit selfish, but if you are going to put hours and hours into trying to get people who you don’t connect with to like you, then maybe it’s not worth as much of your time. Just a thought.
Wish I had those hours back to connect with people that really wanted to get to know me better.
It’s Not Always About Likability
Like I mentioned before, I was being left out not because I wasn’t likable (I made a good deal of friends) but because I was seen as competition. Society is fierce. We have a need to rise to the top and eliminate the competition – it’s a natural behavior from our ancient days. So whenever you feel like you are being left out, don’t always assume it’s because people don’t like you. More often than not, it’s another motive
Maybe Your Imagining It
Walks like a duck, looks like a duck, but really a chicken. Sometimes that is the case. Our minds have over active imaginations, which is why you should pursue and inquire about getting involved. Don’t wait for your friends to invite you out – ask about their plans. Tell them you want to tag along.
Being Accepted Is Over Rated
So you don’t belong to a club, or maybe your not that great of a fit with your coworkers. Things are temporary. Make connections that are worth the test of time. You family and friends are infinitely more important than that coworker or friend of a friend in a group. Maybe, like me, you don’t take too kindly to watching others being left out. Be a supportive and kind person when you can and the rest will follow. You might even make a new friend when you help someone stand up and get going.
Always remember that you are appreciated – no matter what that little voice inside your head says.
Have you ever left felt out? How? And what do you think we could all do to help each other feel more welcomed in groups, teams, and company?