Looking Left Out

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 Others become withdrawn and depressed and exhibit self destructive behaviors.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?

19 thoughts on “Looking Left Out

  1. I am shy in life until I know you. Like small groups of people over big packs. I am a peace keeper the majority of the time but there comes a point where there is nothing left to do in a situation do I let it go and resort to prayer.

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    1. I guess I’m not shy anymore. It was a big revelation that most people were shy and that if I waited for someone to introduce themselves to me I’d be waiting a long time! I’m not confrontational and tend to walk away. As an adult I recognize a bad dynamic and remove myself. If I feel wronged I let God take care of it. I had to wait 26 years but He took care of a big problem… God does answer prayers just not always on our time schedule! Hehe!

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  2. Funny you should mention kickball and always being the last one picked… I did a post about that last year: https://justjoan42.wordpress.com/2017/05/07/once-upon-a-time/. Grade and high school were miserable, I wasn’t pretty or athletic, and earning top grades only made me less popular with my peers. I was a loner who always had my nose in a textbook or library book. As an adult, I’ve followed my interests and found small pockets of like-minded people that I feel comfortable with–writers, artists, poets, dog lovers, book club members, environmentalists, etc. I do a lot of things alone, it’s hard to find anyone who will go with me to a foreign film with subtitles. (It doesn’t bother me, I’m partially deaf and watch all movies and TV at home with the closed captioning turned on.) I think my experiences have made me more sensitive to the feelings and plight of the marginalized. 🙂

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    1. We did kickball but the big rage was tether ball. It was difficult if you were short (I’m short) and a little dangerous too. I’ve met so many wonderful people through my blog (and Xanga, RIP) that I’ve met personally. I’m so grateful for all the opportunities blogging has provided in getting to know others! We watch lots of movies with the subtitles on…

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  3. Rejection is horrible. I’m not sure that people have been as rude to me as they seem to be to you (I’m sorry), but I have never been nor never will be in the “cool” group. I’m good with that. The “cool” group from high school (when I could stand looking at their facebook posts) seem to be exactly who they were in high school. I have to believe I’m a little more complex now than I was then. And glad of it. My friends, then up through now, are excellent people with qualities that appeal to me. Including acceptance. I’m a big fan of cutting people some slack. And I love my weird friends.

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    1. I’m glad you have found your tribe. A friend gave me a scented candle that had “You’re weird. I like you!” printed on the jar. It made me laugh because that’s who I am! Some people peaked in HS and that is where they dwell emotionally – to relive their glory days. I’ve moved on. Glad to know that you have too.

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  4. We writers are introverts–although I have some occasional rowdy in me when I need it. But yes, I think the “schoolyard pick” is horribly cruel–especially when it is co-ed. Ugh. Don’t miss those days. And yes, I think all these experiences make us more empathetic to others. I taught high school English for 30 years and patience has served me well–I always looked for the best in every student–especially my toughest ones. That always came back to me in positive ways.

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    1. I survived and even thrived despite the experiences. On the other hand, those events shaped me in ways unknown. I had an English teacher in 8th grade that was wonderful – I still remember how kind she was to those students who struggled (I wasn’t one of them). She demonstrated the concept of people will reach and exceed the expectations you place for them… *sigh*

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  5. I was painfully shy when I was little. My mother went to the same coffee shop with me starting when I was a toddler. Each time they said “Hello, Gracia” to me. I think I was 9 before I was finally brave enough to answer “Hi.” In Jr. Hi I absolutely hated baseball because I couldn’t see the ball. They hadn’t yet realized how poor my vision was. I don’t remember having any friends in Hi Sch. though I did go to a small girls’ Bible study held off-campus. Finally in college I came out of my shell a wee bit. After I was married and started having babies I became much more social. Now that I’m “elderly” I still am shy in unfamiliar situations. I’m in a small group at church with others who are not of the “popular” people. In fact, our leader calls us the “Island of Misfit Toys.” (Officially we’re known as “Celebration”.) Like you, I’m sure my shyness kept me out of a lot of trouble.

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  6. I was made fun of b/c I wore glasses and b/c my dad was/is a preacher I use to be angry and that reflected in my attitude. I, then, realized that these people weren’t that important to me, nor was their opinion so I ‘let it go’. I, too, hung out/hang out with ‘odd ducks’ and am more understanding of ‘under dogs’ I find ways to help them feel accomplished, noticed, and encouraged. Win/win 😉

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    1. With your martial arts and tutoring, I’m sure you have lots of opportunities to be a positive force in the lives of so many (children and parents too)! I don’t think anyone ever made fun of me because of my glasses but there were people who thought my father was a preacher (and a strict one too)…

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  7. “Like mother like daughter” and “the apple doesn’t fall far from the tree.” At least YOU got to go to all the dances/proms in high school! The dresses I made for you (and your sisters) got to go, ha. I never had a date until I was in college! Talk about shy! But My shyness was mainly around males my own age. Later a former HS male classmate said they all thought I was “stuck up.”

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  8. I think it is great that you used your experience with rejection to make you more compassionate and patient towards others! Too often, it is soul-crushing and can lead to thoughts of revenge or depression. All of us have experienced social rejection on some form or another, and it’s very hard not to take it to heart and let it shape our self-image. How much better to make it our business to help others when we see them in the same position!

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    1. Bullying sets you on a fulcrum – you can tip either way. I’m just glad I didn’t retreat further into my shell. I chose to turn it into a positive outcome for me and others…

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