Wednesday, October 31, 2012

Feeling Left Out

I consider myself a social person. I love people. I love hearing their stories and getting to know them. My friends are incredibly important to me and I work at maintaining friendships over many years and thousands of miles. 

When we arrived in the land of potatoes and dairy I was looking forward to meeting new people, to becoming involved in the community and to laying down roots. I just KNEW we would become friends with our neighbors because that is how it has always been. That didn't happen. NOT. AT. ALL. 

I was disappointed but I had high hopes for forging new relationships. I was trying to set a good example for my children-showing them that you have to put yourself out there and be open to new people and experiences. I've always been friendly and a team player at work and have developed tight knit relationships with some of those people. Now I have one co-worker. She is nice and we can hang out for a few days of training but we are not friends. 

I got desperate and went online to find a mom's group. I came up with all kinds of reasons NOT to go--my kids are older, the group has probably all been together for a long time, I work and can't go to many of the events and on and on.  Luckily my desperation was greater than the voices in my head and I walked in to a room full of strangers. I feel incredibly fortunate to have met such a welcoming, supportive, diverse group of women. Our husbands are becoming friends, our children are friends. 

But that doesn't mean I don't feel left out sometimes. In an effort to become involved at our new school I went to a PTA meeting. The ONLY person who introduced herself was the president-and only after I introduced myself and did my "we're new here" spiel. It was beyond obvious that everyone else knew each other. I was annoyed but whatever.

I ended up volunteering for Room Parent since my daughter's class didn't have one. As we say in the midwest, it's not my first rodeo. I emailed the teacher to find out what she wanted to do for the Halloween party. I've worked with some teachers who are of the "this is what we eat, and these are the games we play and this is EXACTLY how I want it done" group. I've helped other teachers who are of the "do whatever you want, it's 45 minutes I don't have to be in charge" group. I am more than happy to accommodate their wishes.

 She had everything planned and was going to provide snacks but I convinced her to let us handle that. I emailed and called a few names I had been given to help out and coordinated the snacks, cups, etc. When I showed up for the party, two moms had organized the children into different groups and were playing games. I am far from a control freak and am thrilled to see parent involvement but I felt out of the loop. I didn't belong. I was the awkward kid who doesn't know anyone but did what the teacher said and brought orange juice. Meanwhile the cool kids brought candy and games and new everyone's names. 

I introduced myself and chatted with them but it was clear they are friends.

I felt left out and it sucked.

Have you ever felt left out as an adult? What do you do?


16 comments:

christina said...

it's not so bad for me b/c i'm NOT a social person IRL at all. so being left out is my norm. it took a lifetime to be OK with it so i'm REALLY sorry you have to feel it now. :( what to do? know and believe that it's not you, it's them. just keep being you, keep loving you, and you will connect with someone eventually. ::hugs::

in the coop said...

Oh, Robbie, that is so, so hard. I am a social person, too, and when we moved to Indianapolis it was very difficult. I tried the moms groups, church groups, story time groups with the kids. In the end, it just took time. I'm in the same place all over again these days. My best friends have moved away, and other friends have kids the age of my older ones. No one has little kids anymore. I'm having to meet and befriend new people all over again. Ugh. In the school situation, I would have ignored the moms and talked to the teacher and/or kids. Learn their names first, then you have something to discuss with the parents. Just join things that you find enjoyable, introduce yourself, and let it happen, slowly if necessary. Good luck.

Vanessa said...

I've never been able to just fit into a group so I feel your words. I've lived in the same town for 21 years and only got to know some people in the past 4.

Diane said...

I've felt left out most of my life but I mostly blame myself because I am so introverted and slow to warm up to people. The town I live in does not make it any easier although I've been here for like ever now. This was my late husband's hometown. It's a pretty small town...everybody knows everybody kind of place. Nobody moves away so even now, after all these years, I still feel like an outsider most of the time.

My now husband moved here (driving an hour to his place of business each day) so that I would not have to uproot my boys (their grandparents and extended family are all here). He is a very extroverted person but has found it extremely difficult to make any friends here. I think it's because they've all known each other since kindergarten and just don't feel the need to make new friends.

If it weren't for my online friends, I think I'd lose my mind!

doseofreality said...

It is really hard. I have definitely been there, and I try really hard to extend myself when I see a new person, because I know that feeling. Hang in there.

Shell said...

It does suck to feel left out. I'm learning I just have to keep trying.

Stacie @ Snaps and Bits said...

Oh, I'm sorry. That's so hard. We were lucky to meet some really nice friends and neighbors when we moved across the country two years ago (but I feel the same way about the PTA moms). Glad you seemed to have found your tribe in the moms group!

@dkotucker said...

Good for you for putting yourself out there with the moms group! Feeling left out sucks at any age. I have never moved from the city I was born so have no idea what that would be like.

I have been to groups where I feel like the only person who doesn't know anyone OR anything. When I was younger I often felt insecure introducing myself to new people but as I've gotten older I try a lot harder to put myself out there if I see someone new.

Hang in there Robbie! People don't know what they're missing not being your friend. :D

Heather said...

It is really hard. And for the most part I don't think people intend to leave others out, it's just that whole busy not really thinking thing. My fingers are crossed that things get better for you!!!

AnnMarie said...

I just wrote about this from the kids' point of view. In one of my comments I said that this hurts no matter what age you are. It's so hard. I am finding myself becoming less social as I get older. It just hurts less when stuff like this happens. But then it's a little lonely so I guess that isn't the answer either.

sarah said...

All the time Robbie. I am not really a sociable person and I do commend you for taking the first step and the initiative to build walls instead of bridges. For me it always starts with small talk to stories to making time for each other, being there for each other. I have very few friends but I know I can rely on this people even during the unholy hours of dawn and they will be there for me.

I also believe that you will find those true set of people who will understand you for what you are. Just hung in there and one day you may just find out that you have found your new set of friends without trying too hard.

Blessings !

Robbie K said...

I am trying to remember it's not me...it's them. I just don't get how people can NOT include others.

Robbie K said...

Sorry you are going through it again. It really doesn't get any easier does it? It is so hard to put yourself out there.

Robbie K said...

Sometimes I think living in the same town has it's drawbacks. It is so easy for people to get set in their ways and they have such a long history of friendships are are unwilling to change.

Robbie K said...

I was painfully shy as a child though people who meet me know don't believe me. Small towns can be the toughest crowd I think. People don't want to change and make room for someone new....even if you aren't that new. It's sad that ppl have the attitude of not needing new friends. I too would be lost w/o my on line people.

Robbie K said...

Thanks! i too try my best to introduce people to each other and chat them up. I will never forget what it feels like to be the new kid.