Anyone who grew up being a chubby, spotty, socially awkward kid who preferred books to people is was no stranger social exclusion. Whether it was that you were the only one in your class who didn’t get invited to Regina George’s fabulous unicorn party or if you were always last to be picked for the netball team, the memory of basically being told ‘you can’t sit with us’ still has a bit of a sting.Kids rarely have social filters. In fact, they can be brutal sometimes. But as we grow up things change. Social media demonstrates how ugly ducklings quite often turn into swans and those mean girls that laughed at the fatty in the corner well the chances are they became morbidly obese (after getting themselves knocked up by however many men) while little Miss Piggy, well maybe she shed that puppy fat and became #instafabulous! Sure, life experience batters everyone around a bit and teaches us to #stayhumble but how much do we really outgrow our childhood desire to belong to the right group and exclude the people that we don’t deem cool enough to sit with us.
Adult life isn’t the school yard and being a grown-up certainly has it’s advantages. Advances in technology make it easier for us to experience things beyond our immediate surroundings and find people who think more like we do. When the mean girls at school told you that you weren’t welcome at their table, even if you were the kind to go tell tales to Mummy, it’s highly unlikely that she’d let you move to a different school. So, you’d just have to suck it up. But things are different in our old age, we have more control and the power to change things up. People don’t invite you to their party, it’s no biggie I’m sure there’ll be something just as entertaining happening on Saturday night (and if you are typical Capetonian you’ll be keeping your options open and double parking in any case!). That said, come Monday morning when all the Facebook pictures of said event start popping up and all your friends are talking about the shit that went down at event you were excluded from, well… no matter how old you are it’s bound to result some familiar emotional pangs.
How to handle social exclusion as an adult …
So when we were kids we’d probably get bleak, possibly cry and complain to Mum but that would be about it. As adults, we aren’t necessarily immune to the sting of being socially excluded BUT there are a number of ways we can deal with such situations
a) Stay home and cry
You feel unloved. Buy yourself a couple of tubs of Ben and Jerry’s, order some junk from UberEats and stay at home watching sad movies. It’s human to feel a bit bleak but there really is no need to wallow in self-pity and make yourself fat in the process.
b) Get on with things, find your tribe and enjoy a better life
Moving on to my next point, instead of crying over spilt milk. If you are feeling isolated the worst thing you can possibly do is stay at home alone. Get out there and do something…anything! Find an alternative event, hit the gym, indulge in a bit of retail therapy.
An old perve once told me that if people focused on the things they loved then they’d be happier and attract the right people. He had a point. So don’t let any person or group pull the strings on your happiness levels. Get out there and make a better life for yourself.
I understand that not everyone thinks the same way I do. Having relocated to the other side of the world I know that while it’s not easy starting up in a new place, eventually you will meet your tribe. If people choose not to include me in their activities, I’d take the hint and move on. However, some people aren’t inclined to give up so easily.
Is it wise though to question the culprits as to why they won’t let you enter the circle of trust? Hmmm…I think you are asking for trouble here. Well, that and committing social suicide. Actions speak louder than words and all that jazz. Do you really need to have things spelt out for you? Clearly, you are not wanted for whatever reason (I honestly don’t see the need to know the gory details) so hop along and don’t stay where you are not wanted.
d) Self Reflection
Sure, if it’s just the odd incident it’s easier to things brush off. But what if it keeps happening? What then? Maybe it’s time for a bit of self-reflection. Perhaps your personality rubs people up the wrong way? Or maybe it’s your constant negativity that kills the vibe of every party?
Think about it. Maybe you need to work yourself.
e) And finally …. realise it’s not all about you!
Being mature adults I think there are some things worth bearing in mind when you do experience social exclusion and feel like you are somehow regressing back to those bad old days of the schoolyard. Firstly, there are worse crimes than downgrading a friendship. Circumstances change and as a result so do friendship groups – it’s not ideal but life is not a fairytale, it has its chapters so just turn the page without becoming bitter about it realise that ‘coffee friends’ also have their purpose. Perhaps some forms of social exclusion are a blessing in disguise. As we grow up we realise there are different aspects of our personality and perhaps one’s slovenly little bestie from primary school wouldn’t fit in so well with your cross-fit obessed peeps or those that you go tequila tasting with might just end up offending your 30-something virgin friend who’d much rather spend an evening talking about the Big G. Yes, social exclusion sucks no matter how old you get but as adults we have the tools to get over it more easily and the foresight to realise that sometimes it could be for own sanity.
OK, Rinsers. Do you find that social exclusion is such a big deal as an adult? Is it something you’ve had to deal with or are you just a sparkly social butterfly? What are the best ways to deal with those ‘you can’t sit with us’ situations? Share your views in the comments section below.