There she was just wanting to fit in. A newbie on the job feeling concerned, scared, overwhelmed, wanting to make a good impression but so anxious! After graduating college with an Ivy degree, she had so much for which to be proud; yet, she was wondering why her colleagues left their desks at lunchtime and didn’t ask her to join.
Another woman in her late sixties just moved to an ‘over 55 neighborhood’ and was an experienced cards player (Bridge was her specialty). She didn’t know anyone but wanted to get involved in a weekly game and start making new friends. After her husband’s encouragement she went to the clubhouse in the neighborhood to sign up for a game but could not find one that had a regular opening. She agreed to ‘substitute’ when someone else was out sick. She told me after six months of playing Bridge with these women, she still felt as if she was not a part of the group; struggling to make friends.
An 18 year old boy who is a freshman in college went to rush for a fraternity and later learned he was not chosen to pledge the fraternity but his roommates were. He later went into a serious depression and dropped out of school.
What do all of these people have in common? They, just like all human beings, want to fit IN! Whenever we feel excluded, and take it personally (tough not to do but usually it has nothing to do with the person being excluded), it causes us emotional pain. It is universal to want to ‘fit in’ or be a part of a group-no matter what age or stage of life we are in. Dr. Wayne Dyer had said, “When you change the way you look at things, the things you look at change.” This applies here. So often times, we take other peoples’ behavior personally and it is critically important to remember that most people do things for their own reasons, having nothing to do with us! When we remind ourselves of this, it can bring comfort. If you have to keep trying to fit into a group and are not being well received (for whatever reason!), this is probably not the group for you. A wise person once shared this with me and it is so true…”People should be celebrated, not tolerated!” Find people and groups that see who you are and can celebrate you!!!
On the flip side, take a look at those you invite into your circles and those you leave out. Imagine how good you would make someone feel by inviting them into your life for a moment, an experience or a relationship. Oftentimes we think that being a part of a group is only important to kids sitting in a high school cafeteria…this is not the case…We all want to fit in and we all can do something to help others feel included. Feeling excluded and lonely can lead to severe depression. We all want to know that we have friends we can call to share time with or in times of need. So, be a friendly person and ask that person at Starbucks or at your work cafeteria to join you; you will make their day!