I was a small child. I detested the ritual of picking teams because I was the last one picked. There is nothing that compares to the feeling of being unwanted. Perhaps I had overdeveloped intuitive sense but I could tell when I wasn’t welcome. Growing up in a subdivision created a closed group of playmates. As the subdivision expanded, the number of potential friends increased too. On one occasion my best friend and I joined a large group to play kickball. Teams were chosen and yes, I was the last one picked. It was finally my turn to kick. I kicked the ball. It went sailing and I ran. However it was caught and I was out. I was relegated to the end of the rotation and no matter how many times others were up to kick I remained at the end of the line. After a few more innings I simply walked away. It took the others a good hour to realize I was gone. That is the passive rejection. Active rejection is not as easy to ignore. I’ve had people refuse to acknowledge my existence. I’ve had people talk over me. Once a group turned their backs on me.
Those experiences shaped me is myriad ways. Perhaps the most prominent was that I have become very accepting of others that are on the margins. In high school I had a little group of friends who were all “odd ducks” in one way or another. My circle of of friends in college was the same only different. It made me patient. Many of my coworkers think I have the patience of a saint. I prefer to think of it as cutting others some slack. Not everyone learns at the same rate in the same way. I am willing to try different methods without putting the blame on them or me! Those experiences of being left out pushed me away from the mainstream. Probably saved me from experimenting with drugs, alcohol, tobacco or becoming sexually active as a young teen (I came of age in the 1970s). I was always an introvert but having to rely on myself for entertainment, conversation, and companionship allowed me to be comfortable being alone. I can eat at a restaurant solo, see a movie by myself, and be home alone without trepidation. It also pushed me to become less introverted. I consider myself to be a recovering introvert in that I can be comfortable in social settings, meeting strangers, and I appear outgoing.
I suppose some people when rejected become angry and want to avenge the slight. Others become withdrawn and depressed and exhibit self destructive behaviors. Some seclude themselves effectively creating insulation against the rejection. And others rise up against it and become social butterflies. What is your experience?