Have you ever felt alone or left out even in the company of many? Some of us have a huge circle of friends, but that does not mean we are happy. Some may be in smaller cliques, but they engage each other and have a sense of belonging.
What do you feel when you are with your circle? Do you feel engaged, have lots of fun and laughter? Or do you feel left out often wish someone would pay more attention to what you were talking about?
In my experience, even though we may have a large circle of friends and hang out together, it is quite not possible to be on really close terms with every individual. Your group may be close; you go places, do things together and speak to each other as a group, but when face to face with one of them, how comfortable are you sharing on an individual level? Would you divulge your really personal information or issue to each and every individual in the group or only to the specific one or two?
Many see us as cohesive groups of teenagers, always laughing, happily chatting away and making jokes. We face challenges and work together a lot of times, but the truth is sometimes I felt left out and alone.
Earlier Personal Experience
I have two cousins of similar age range and we used to hang out together when we were still kids. When I was in primary school, I was particularly close to a cousin of mine, because we lived near each other and we would spend lots of times together. I was always with her and she was like a big sister to me. During weekends, we would have our sleepovers at our grandma place and do things together. We also hung out with the other cousin, but not as often.
When we had to go secondary level, she transferred to another school while I stayed in the same one. I had wanted to go to the same school as her but I was dissuaded by my mother.
Both my cousins went to the same secondary school and because there were more additional classes and activities, we spent lesser time together. My two cousins had the same social circle and were together more often as a result. Over time, my cousins and I drifted apart, and I often felt left out.
As I finished school and moved overseas to study, our relationships became much estranged to the point that it was just polite exchanges at one time. The other cousin with whom I was not as close to is now on better terms with me as compared to the one whom I spent the most time with.
Then I came to realize, people change, situations change with time. When it’s time to move on, move on. Understand that what is now, may not be the same tomorrow.
I had a similar experience with school mates as well.
I had a strict curfew in the past while my circle of friends had more freedom. They would sometimes hang out after school while I had to go home. Naturally, I would have no idea about their topic of discussion on what they did the day before. They were also closer among themselves. I often felt left out and ended up keeping quiet throughout their sharing process.
I was never really part of them if you get what I mean. They created a name for the group then. After graduation, some of us went overseas to study (I was one of them), and some got married and started their family later on. Years later, at a dinner gathering, one of them commented, “but you were never really a part of our group”.
For a moment, I was caught in silence and confusion. This was the group that I had basically spent my time with throughout my schooling years, and most of my memories were with them albeit only in school. Although I hadn’t kept in regular contact with all of them, I maintained communication with those few whom I was close with on individual level. I missed out most of the outings with them, but I still considered them a significant part in my life. Being told that I was not part of them did not feel good.
A while later, I came to a reconciliation on my end. It does not matter who commented or what they think of me, or whether I was actually part of them or not, I would still consider them as the longest friends I have had and I want to maintain our friendships.
Even though these days we seldom keep in touch because of life, we still pick up the phone and call each other whenever we can.
It’s not the past that matter but the future looking forward. What can you do about it?
Your mindset and perspectives about yourself determine who you will be in future.
In another instance, I remember the times when I was just an average student scoring average grades, and I had average friendships with my classmates.
However, when I started to score better and came up top five of my class, up came a few who told me that they didn’t want to be friends with me anymore. At that point, I thought to myself, I probably shouldn’t do so well in future if I’m losing friends.
When this confusing situation eventually evolved and came to light, I realized that I don’t have to account to anyone for my competency, nor do I have to pay for others’ insecurities. To be honest, those who threatened to un-friend me were never really in my circle anyway. I continued doing my best in school because that’s what I was good at. Over time, I thrived, the real friends stayed and I met better ones.
Just be who you are, do your best and when you do what you need to, the real ones will stay, support and grow along with you. You will also attract the ‘like-minded’ circles and those who share the same vision/goals as you.
I saw the same experience on my lady manager a few years back. She had just been recently promoted to Manager of our team when I joined the company. There was already obvious dissatisfaction from the team members who we previously in the same rank as her yet were not given the promotion. They had negative feedback about her and questioned her competency, coming especially from those who had more experience than her. You probably can imagine her stress when she took over and how left out she felt.
However, from my two years of working with her, I found out that these comments were unfounded. My then manager portrayed responsibility and professionalism, she was pro-active, diligent, willing to help even though she had no answer. She cared about each of our career paths, discussed our appraisals, dealt with difficult clients and kept the team going despite the lack of appreciation from her team members.
She overcame this huge challenge by doing her best for the team and kept on improving herself.
What I learned from her was ATTITUDE. Even though you may not have the experience, as long as you are willing to do it, you will succeed. It’s all in the attitude of a person to be able to achieve what others cannot, to live with greatness and success.
Her attitude to situations (not individuals), her persistence, resilience and efforts to face challenges head on was inspiring to my career moving on. She might have felt left out and not well-liked, but she did what she had to, and emerged a stronger and better manager, proving her capability. Eventually, she gained acceptance and appreciation from the team.
Also, she had the support from our boss and of course, myself and others who appreciated her. Turns out, you don’t need everyone to like you to be great or seek acceptance by everyone. You only need a handful of who share the same vision/goals with you and whose who want to thrive alongside you.
Do what you are here for, be you truthfully, live your life with greatness.
What do you do when you feel left out?
Have you faced similar situations like mine? Have you ever been told ‘actually we didn’t think you were one of us’? Sure, it hurts because you feel the rejection from someone you thought you connected with.
Then again, the others might not even realize that you were feeling left out.
When you are doing better than others and felt threatened to save your friendships, try to think of this in another view. Yes, friends are important to us, but if you feel you have to make way or change your life to satisfy them, these so-called friends are not really your real friends, because real friend would be happy for your achievement, motivate you and they will also do their best to develop themselves along with you. not pull you down.
If you really felt rejected and dejected being left out, understand that there are millions of other people in this world that you still can befriend. Surely and definitely, you will be able to find “Like-Minded” groups who would love your original self around them and enjoy your company instead of you having to wear masks and change your identity when you are with them. When you find such like-minded groups, you will almost instantly know it. They recharge, motivate, encourage and lift you up. It will not be restrained, not stressed, not confusing and won’t leave you lonely or tired after meeting them.
If you are just stepping into the working society and are doing well, just keep doing what you need to, do your best and be respectful to your peers. When you gain achievements, there are bound to be negative people (and naysayers) who would discourage you or demean your competency (to the extreme, you may feel boycotted). Know that you don’t have to endure or tolerate their behaviours.
What they choose to think or perceive, are their choices. You may feel down, but you will surpass these feelings. And, you will take it as a lesson or challenge to manage your emotions and relationships with people better. You can opt to speak to your superior who support you (raise the issue so your management is aware), but don’t complain to them. The best way is to think of ways to professionally handle this situation and see if your superior will agree, and move on. Don’t entwine yourself in this emotional scuffle because it will affect your performance and that’s what people what to see.
Get to know yourself, be who you are, do your best and you will attract the ‘like-minded’ circles and those who share the same vision/goals as you. You only need a handful of who share the same vision/goals with you and whose who want to thrive alongside you.
Find ways to react positively under such situations.
Seek reconciliation within yourself. Some people just don’t click with us.
It’s not the past that matter but the future looking forward. What didn’t work before does not mean they won’t be in future. If you value someone, tell them, but don’t hang on to it.
Understand that people change, and situations change with time. When it’s time to move on, move on.
Be objective about it. When you do what you need to, the real ones will stay, support and grow along with you.
Do what you are here for, be you truthfully, live your life with greatness.