The “In” Crowd

I was once like you are now, and I know that it’s not easy,
To be calm when you’ve found something going on.
But take your time, think a lot,
Why, think of everything you’ve got.
For you will still be here tomorrow, but your dreams may not.~ Cat Stevens


I started a new job last week. I want to share how it feels to be on the outside looking in. I wasn’t introduced to anyone. Secret Santa was starting. I was not added to the “all” list for work emails until a week after I started. The first person to speak with me, other than my boss, threw me under the bus in front of my boss and my students. By the time a teacher in the same department pulled me aside to speak with me, I had already decided to put on my big girl panties and drive on. At an all staff meeting, no one introduced me. Inside jokes were flying all around me and yet, I was invisible.

My boss gave me a gift bag yesterday. Inside was a snow globe and some candy. I appreciate the gesture and the recognition that perhaps it had been noticed I was on the outside. The snow globe, oddly enough, sticks with me. What a perfect metaphor for how I feel. Everything looks picture perfect from the outside.

The truth is, there is not an “in” crowd.” What looks perfect from where you are is flawed. Yes, it hurts to be left out. It hurts to know there’s something going on. I can’t stop that hurt. But I can decide how long I’m going to feel it.

It’s not easy. Putting on my happy face takes a lot of effort. The longer I have to keep it on, the more it wears me down. As an aside, being Autistic means I get left out. And I feel it more deeply than you might imagine. I would so dearly love to be invited to things. I relate well to how kids feel when they’re left out of games at school or when they aren’t invited to parties.

Back to me being in control of how I feel. It’s true. No one can make me happy except me. But, it sure would be nice to have some help. We wonder why so many people hurt themselves and others. Just imagine the pain they must be in to go to those lengths. Wouldn’t it help you be happy to know that your invitation, even if it’s just to sit at an “in” table at lunchtime, relieved some of that pain? That your small gesture eased someone’s pain? I can tell you that what seems small to you may be enormous to someone like me.

Your challenge: Think of everything you’ve got. Remember the snow globe. See if you can help someone feel welcome. You might be surprised at how good it feels to you as well.

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