Are you an extrovert or an introvert? I think knowing this about ourselves can be incredibly helpful in our relationships. Personally, I am an introvert, so it means that I ofteN need a quiet night in to recharge my batteries. BUT just because I enjoy a quiet night in, alone, and relaxing doesn’t mean I never want to join you. I do in fact enjoy spending time with my friends in a small group, BUT if that group gets too large I may start feeling a little drained. Now if I may speak for a moment on behalf of other introverts, let me say, “Please don’t forget to include me.”
The struggle of feeling left out is something I’ve battled since at least college.
Throughout my college years, I had a very full schedule. I worked full-time. I attended school full-time. I babysat almost EVERY Friday or Saturday. After working and doing so much all day, every day, I had to make time for getting recharged. Unfortunately, taking care of my introvert caused me to feel left out. At the time it hurt that I wasn’t invited out with friends, but as time has passed I honestly believe it was not intentional. I think I didn’t get invited most of the time because people didn’t think I had time. They were probably right, but it still hurt to find out my friends were hanging out without me.
Fast word to graduate school…
I was going to school full-time. This program advised us not to work more than 10 hours a week, but I had bills to pay. So instead of working full-time, I typically worked 20-30 hours a week. On top of everything else I was doing, I got involved with some of our campus committees (community service and fellowship to be exact). I was grateful for these opportunities for connection because they kept me informed of some happenings on campus. Despite my need for time for to get recharged, I was yet again feeling left out. I continue to believe that I didn’t get invited to everything because my friends didn’t think I had time. They were probably right, but I would still have appreciated being included instead of finding out that my friends were hanging out without me (yet AGAIN).
Are you noticing a trend?
I was living a very full life, I was taking the time I needed to recharge as an introvert, AND I was feeling left out. As time passes and I talk with others about these experiences, I’m beginning to think I’m not alone in this feeling of being excluded. I also think my friends noticed I was missing, but eventually they stopped asking, because I never came when I was invited. I also believe I know a way to make this better.
How to get from exclusion to inclusion
It all begins with a little self reflection. We take a moment and admit to ourselves that we are feeling left out, or perhaps we’ve been leaving someone out. Next, we evaluate our situation and see if we have any culpability in the current situation. Did we constantly turned down the invitations to go out and join the group? Did we stop asking someone to join us because they said they couldn’t come? Then we have to take the leap and ask if we’ve tried talking about what was happening? It takes courage to say, “I feel left out.” It also takes courage to say, “I’m sorry for not including you.” No one will know what we are thinking or feeling if we never speak up.
Much of life involves good old conversation.
You know, that thing we’re not always so good at doing. BUT, what’s a good friendship without communication? If you are not willing to talk with your friends about what is going on, maybe there’s a bigger issue at hand. If you do talk it out, I assure you it will be worth the awkwardness and vulnerability. It may involve rethinking the way you spend time together. Perhaps you will decide to have a girl’s night in, with some wine/kombucha/sparkling water, takeout, and binge watching several episodes (or seasons) of Gossip Girl.” Maybe you think that your introverted friend will not enjoy a night out on the town with the friends, but ask them anyway. But most of all you’ll both know you’ve had your feelings heard and will feel included. Good friends never intend to leave their friends out.