Earlier this week I was reading A Corner of the Universe by one of my favorite authors, Ann M. Martin. She is best known for the Baby-Sitters Club series (one day I will have to recount how I accumulated and read the entire series as an adult), and she is exceptional at writing young adult literature.
The book centers on Hattie, a 12 year old dealing with some strange family issues back in 1960.
At one point in the book, Hattie observes: There is nothing like feeling left out.
That sentence stayed with me well after I finished the book.
Since I was young, I often felt left out. I don’t remember much from my childhood, at least not vividly, but what I do remember is me, alone, and feeling like I didn’t belong. I have two significantly older brothers (eight and nine years older than me). We were poor. I didn’t have many friends at school. I had (and still have) two wonderful friends I’ve known since I was born; we shared a common fence and spent many hours there, playing and tossing toys back and forth to each other. Those friends were my lifeline.
I remember walking through our beautiful garden. I could often be found reading alone and out among the fruits and vegetables. We also had a rose garden. We had chickens and they talked to me more than pretty much anyone else.
My time was spent watching other people do things I wasn’t taking part in. It was deeply lonely.
Feeling left out has remained a sensitive spot for me through the years. I’ve all too often experienced firsthand that feeling of knowing people are out doing things without you.
This is something that comes up in gaming for me as well. The more I venture into online games, the more I have to be careful. I sometimes see people playing a game they know I also have (and want to play with them), and yet they either play it without me, or simply don’t ask if I’d like to join them. The flip side of this, is that sometimes I am already in a group of people playing something, and someone else asks if they can join, but there either isn’t room on the team, or their playstyle differs so greatly from everyone else that the match might not work very well. I’m acutely aware of turning people down, and it’s never done maliciously.
I never want to be the reason someone feels left out.
With the approach of Destiny 2, I’ve been thinking about this. Lots of folks know how into Destiny I am. I have already committed to at least three separate playthroughs with different people. There are three classes in the game, and I’m basically going to have one for each set of people I play with. Don’t get me wrong; it’s wonderful to have these options and to know there are people who want to connect, but there are also people who have mentioned something to me about playing together, and I very much doubt I will be able to play with them, too.
Inevitably, it feels like someone will be left out.
In my life, I try very hard to reach out and be inclusive. Sometimes it comes back, but often it does not. It’s hard. It’s like watching people have fun from a respectable distance. You are aware it’s happening, but it’s not happening to you.
There is no feeling like it. And I wish it upon no one.
I hope we all can be as cognizant of this pitfall as possible. Sometimes we aren’t even aware that someone feels left out until it becomes clear in an unfortunate way. Life is too short to exclude. So many awful news stories have reminded me of how important it is to connect with people, to try to understand people, and to be there for people. There are enough hardships in the world; we can all try just a bit more to extend a hand to those who might need or want it.
I hope everyone who reads this feels welcome here. I appreciate you so much, and I want you to know it. I also appreciate you for simply being you. You’re the best you there ever was. And I’m glad to cross paths when and where we can. If I could fashion each of you a crown of olive branches, I most certainly would.
Hug. And an extra for later. You can just push it way down in your pocket should you need a hug down the road.
Peace be with you, friends.
I’m right there with you being left out sucks.
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Indeed it does. And I want you to know how much I appreciate all the times you’ve invited me to play together. It always means a lot to me.