I pulled into the parking lot, parked, and lugged out my camping chair. I was flying solo at one of my children’s sporting events, my husband was busy that evening. As soon as we parked my 3 kids went in 3 different directions. I was looking forward to watching my son play, chatting with friends, and enjoying the summer evening. I found a friend of mine whom I used to be rather close to, and I set up my chair in the empty spot next to her husband . We chatted for a bit, catching up.
Then it happened.
Three other parents, whom I would also consider good friends, came over to sit and chat. This should be fun, I thought to myself! They arranged their chairs behind my friend, making room for each other in a nice semi circle, facing one another…and the exclusion was apparent. I was not sitting in their tight little semi circle. I was on the outside. There was no, “hey lets scoot over”, or “come sit with us!”
I sat for a minute and told myself I was imagining things, because, I’m not still in high school. I looked over and it was obvious, they were having a conversation and I was not going to be invited into it. I made small talk with my friend’s husband, felt totally awkward, and ended up moving.
Now we can stop right here, because I can already see some select comments. “You were probably imagining it”. “Why didn’t you just go over and sit with them?” “You’re being too sensitive” “Maybe they needed to talk about something personal”. And those all might be valid points and actually went through my mind. But that’s not why I’m writing this.
This is why: Those moments where I felt completely shut out, made me dig deep. It made me dig deep into who I am, how I treat others, and how I wanted to be treated. I never wanted to feel like that again. And I didn’t want anyone else to feel like I did. So I made a few promises to myself.
1. I’m not going to be so engaged with others, that I don’t look around to see if someone else needs to be engaged.
I need to be more aware when there might be someone who feels left out. Because we all want to be included, whether we are in High School or not.
2. I’m going to get over it.
It was a moment in time. It hurt me, I’m going to learn from it, and I’m going to move on. I need to adopt this for a lot of my experiences. The ones that impact us deeply are the ones we can learn from the most. But then we need put it behind us.
3. I’m not going to hold it against them.
This one is hard. I was excluded. It was obvious. I had formulated in my mind how I was going to accidentally on purpose act like they weren’t around. But next time I see them, I’m not going to ignore them, or give them the cold shoulder. They are human too. I want grace when I need it. So that means I need to extend it.
I don’t want to go back to High School. I know you don’t either. Next time you are in a situation that impacts you on a deep level, I want to challenge you to see how you can flip it and make you a better person. We usually can’t change others. But we can change ourselves.