Most of us are familiar with the feeling – feeling left out of a group, always observing things from what feels like a distance. Being shut out. So, what do you do? You probably try to ignore the glares, suppress the old wounds, and keep your head down.
This is harder to combat than others. Especially those of us who are of ethnic backgrounds and different sexual orientations. Basically, anyone who is not amongst the “status quo”, you have probably experienced this.
The Depression Factor
Depression skews our world-view (yes, I have stated this numerous times before too). It gets to the point that we perceive ourselves to be shut out even if we are ignored unintentionally. By keeping silent for the remainder of the interaction, we shut ourselves out. The other person cannot possibly understand what we are thinking. They don’t know why we’re quiet or why we have decide to walk away. This is not to say that people never intentionally ignore people. That happens too.
We have a decision to make in moments such as these. We can succumb to our own insecurity, allow our depression to take hold, and retreat. Or, we can take a moment to gather our wits, and see if the situation can be resuscitated.
Speaking from experience, the latter is much, much better. Yes, it takes courage and it takes all your will-power. However, your efforts will be rewarded. Maybe not in the way that you intend, but nonetheless, you can gain peace of mind. At least you won’t subject yourself to future regret.
The Loneliness Factor
Yes, being on the outside sucks. You are in a group of people and you feel alone. Maybe, you walked into this feeling alone to begin with. Maybe you walked into this knowing that you don’t know anyone. Seeing a sea of unknown faces is daunting to anyone.
I am not trying to undermine anyone here. I know we are all capable adults and we all know how to talk to people should push come to shove. However, we forget that these people may also be nervous or anxious. Just because someone emits a confident exterior, does not mean that they are natural social people.
Take a moment to speak to someone. Start with a greeting or small talk. Yes, yes, you know how to do this. So, why am I saying it? Because you need to actually try it! What’s the worst that can happen? They walk away? I’m sure you can handle one person walking away. They were probably a jerk anyways. Nice people don’t do things like that.
The Lasting Effect
Usually, we are not aware of this, but when we leave a social situation, feeling invisible, we may find that we have buried some of the residual feeling. If left unattended, these emotions build up. They grow and grow and grow. After a while, it takes longer to recuperate because partially we want people to look at us and think that we are strong, partially because we don’t know how to deal with it.
So how do you deal with it?
The answer is so simple that it sounds stupid. Talk. Start a light conversation, casually mentioning that you felt left out. Frame it in a way that it doesn’t sound accusatory. In confrontational settings, most people will defend themselves to no end and they may even show aggression. To avoid this, try to practice what you are going to say. Make sure you use words that are ensure that you are not blaming the other person.
You may just find out that the other person had no idea. They may apologize or they may not. Either way, it’s out in the open and now you know that their intentions were not malicious. And isn’t that worth it?
Happy conversations, everyone! I’ve got your back!