When You’re Feeling Left Out

In the last month, five different people from five different age groups have said something to me about feeling “left out” of friendships.  FIVE different people. FIVE different age groups.

I guess it’s not a total stretch because I’ve been living at a summer camp for kids for most of the summer (and it’s not uncommon for kids to feel “left out” at times), but out of the five different people who’ve had this particular issue, only two were kids.

One was my daughter; 7-years-old. There are no kids at camp her age this session, so she’s complaining that EVERYONE is leaving her out, (they’re not) and the other kid who mentioned something was a camp staff member. The other three have been full-fledged adults.

That surprised me.

I honestly didn’t consider you could still feel “left out” of a friendship as an adult. I can’t even remember the last time I felt left out. Wait. Yes, I can. One of our (my huz and I) friends threw a party and we weren’t invited, but all of our other friends in that particular group were. This was before social media madness, so I didn’t even know about the party until after, when one of our other friends asked where the hell we were.

We were somewhere else having a good time, but still. Why weren’t we invited? It was a BIG party and it wasn’t just weird we weren’t invited, it was noticeable.

I called my friend who threw the party and asked her “WTF” because none of it made sense. First, she gave me a weird story, but then she caved and admitted she was mad at me. That didn’t surprise me, I mess up a lot, but I don’t read minds. If you don’t tell me you’re mad, how the hell can I fix it?

Turns out she was mad at something that wasn’t my fault. She had gotten bad info and never checked with me. I yelled at her, and we were fine. But I missed a party—a  GOOD PARTY—and I was sad.

My huz couldn’t understand why I needed clarification in the first place, but I did. I didn’t like that feeling, of being left out. I needed to know what was UP. You can’t tell someone who is feeling left out not to feel that way. You can’t turn that sh*t off. You have to figure out why you’re feeling like that so you can get past it. So, let’s break it down:

1. You woke up to a photo on social media with a bunch of your friends and you weren’t invited. First of all, sucky way to wake up. Next, remember that social media doesn’t usually tell the WHOLE story. Last, remember the story I kicked off with? If they are, indeed, your friends, you shouldn’t have any problem calling one of them to find out what the deal is. (You can’t fix what you don’t know is broken.) If they come clean, you can go from there. If they blow it off, they’re obviously not ready to get real with you, so now you know that about them. You did the right thing by checking, that’s all you can do. Who needs the drama? Not you. You have other friends. #ByeFelicia

2. Maybe you’re not making an effort. Maybe you’re not showing how BADLY you want to be a part of things. How badly do you want it? It could be that you consistently say “No” whenever you are extended an invite, or it could be that, deep down, you don’t want to be a part of it. That’s fine, but you don’t get to be pissed that they now feel the same.

3. Maybe you were overlooked. That happens. I have done that, probably more than I know! There was one time in particular when I overlooked people and it didn’t go well for me. There were kids involved, and there were hurt feelings. It was horrible. There is nothing worse than unintentionally hurting a child’s feelings. If you want to read about how DUMB one person can be, here you go: “Mommy Mistake 2186: The Birthday Party F**K UP” (But you have to finish this post first!)

4. Sometimes it’s not about you. Social Media is social. It’s for anyone to see. Sometimes I act like it’s not. Sometimes I put something on someone’s wall because I want that person to smile. It’s like a little virtual present for that friend. “Why didn’t you put anything on MY wall?” OMG, shoot me. It’s not about you this time. It will probably be about you next time, if you stop your freaking whining!

5. Know your friends. One of the DS+D tribe threw down the term “fewest and truest” on our Facebook page the other day. It’s a brilliant term because those are the ones to concentrate on–your fewest and truest. The other “friends” can’t hurt you because they don’t hold the same meaning in your life. They’re fun and they’re great, and you adore them and they feel the same, but are they one of your fewest and truest? Are THEY the ones to concentrate on?

6. Sometimes it’s financial restraints. Financial restraints are really no one else’s business so it’s hard for some to admit when they can’t swing something. I, personally, don’t give a crap so I’ll cop to financial restraints when I have them (and I always have them). I don’t think there’s anything wrong with being smart about money. I would hate to see money (or lack thereof) getting in the way of hurting someone’s feelings though, so if I know there is someone who might feel slighted, I will let them know that I love them, I just can’t afford to have them. And if they don’t get that, they didn’t know me very well to begin with.

7. Sometimes people are idiots. When my huz turned 40, I threw him a party and left some very special people off the guest list—people we are close with—because I suck. We had only been married a few years and we both brought a lot of previously acquired friends to the table. We also had financial restraints (because most people do). I had to come up with a cut and dry rule of how to keep the guest list to a minimum. As a result, I only invited the people he “brought to the table” because in my mind, I rationalized that it was his party. I didn’t invite any of “my friends,” even though they love him and wanted to be (and should have been) part of the celebration. I will forever regret that.

8. Sometimes people just suck. This is a very simple, yet often overlooked, reason for leaving someone out. If your gut tells you someone sucks, keep moving. They did you a favor, you just can’t see it yet. It will take time but you will end up happier for it.

9. It’s not where you’re supposed to be. This is a hard one to wrap your head around. I was on a girl’s trip years ago and one of my friends had an awful case of FOMO (Fear Of Missing Out.) We didn’t call it FOMO then, but that’s what it was. We discussed wanting to be in two places at once and it all made sense, but I told her: “Where you are RIGHT NOW is the place to be. THIS is where it’s happening. Right here, beyotch.” And she knew I was right because we were having fun, we all were— and no matter what she was missing, NO MATTER WHAT, nothing was better than me coming back to the car all excited that I found one of my favorite songs on CD for 1.00! And then I made everyone listen to it. (They weren’t as excited, but I didn’t care. I’ll jam alone.)

10. Figure out your priorities. If feeling left out is more of a FOMO thing, ask yourself what you’re really missing out on? Social Media lends itself to lots of “sharing.” It’s very much a spectator sport. It’s how we keep up with our friends and family, but we don’t need to keep score. If you’re a part of the social media world, you’re going to see all kinds of things—many of which you’re not a part ofThere are all kinds of reasons why people do what they do, they range anywhere from being mean to unintentional to clueless. Figure out how much you really care. For me, unless you are in the same room with Eminem, my brother, or a fat ass cake, I’m pretty good with whatever I’m doing. And I hope you feel a little better about everything too.

Thanks for being here! We appreciate the support so much, and if you know of anyone else who might like this, please share. We hope you do!

XO, The DS+D Crew