Have you ever felt left out before? Well, that’s kind of a silly question: Who hasn’t? Let me rephrase it. During times when you’ve felt excluded, how did you handle it? If you’re anything like me (if you’re human, in fact), you probably felt a little sorry for yourself, and angry too. Because the fact is, there are a lot of people that we might become friends with if only they were willing to reach out and get to know us. Unfortunately, a lot of teenagers (and adults) aren’t willing to take that step. Thus many of us are left feeling lonely, excluded, and ignored; we feel like there’s nothing we can do about it.
That’s so far from the truth. There is something that can be and needs to be done, and it starts with you.
Here’s something I want you to do: Think of a situation where you’ve felt left out. Think about the people who are actively excluding you. Are they doing it on purpose? A lot of times, no. A lot of times, they just don’t realize that you feel left out. Or maybe they do notice, but they don’t feel like they are in a position to reach out to you. Maybe they’re not mean, they’re just shy and afraid to reach out of their comfort zone.
Maybe I’m describing you.
You see, it’s easy to get frustrated when our peers or acquaintances ignore us. But when we feel included in the group, we tend to forget about the outcasts.
As youth, we like to form groups. We don’t like to cross invisible “lines” or step out of our comfort zone in order to make someone feel included. We’re afraid. Afraid that our friends will make fun of us, or that we may reach out and that person will block us out, resulting in your feelings being hurt. It’s complicated. But let me tell you this: When you’re the one on the outside, wouldn’t you appreciate it if someone reached out to you?
We really have a hard time applying the Golden Rule. We seem to think that other people are completely different from us. Well, even though we are unique, and there will be certain people who have nothing in common with you; but most of the time, they have the same thoughts and the same worries and feelings as you. They are also afraid of being made fun of. Everyone craves to be part of the group. When we realize this, we can start to relate to people, to reach out. That being afraid is no excuse to push someone away and ignore them.
Even if you are the one on the outside, you can still reach out to others. You can still make people feel welcome, loved, and appreciated.
We can go through our day expecting other people to reach out to us. And there will be people that do that. However, there sometimes won’t be, which leaves things to you. We can’t expect others to change if we aren’t willing to make that change ourselves. This can apply to so many things. So here’s the question: Are you ready to start the change? Or are you going to spend your life waiting for someone else to do it?
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