A few nights ago, while scrolling through my social media, I saw some of my author friends participating in an exciting event I would have loved to be involved in! Upon reading the comments, it was invite-only, and ummm...apparently, I was not invited. Like the Coronavirus, I was NOT INVITED! WHAT?! But unlike this virus, I was not going to force my presence where I was not wanted (or at least where it felt like I was not wanted). Commence tiny pity-party.
Is it weird to be 39 years old and feel left-out? Does that make my accomplishments less than others? Well, sometimes it sure feels that way while strolling along with Facebook, Twitter, IG, and LinkedIn! Does social media keep us focused on this comparison route where there are times we feel superior and other times...uninvited? Dang right, it does! Wait. Surely, all over this world, there are healthy-minded individuals not comparing themselves to others, fighting feelings of FOMO. Sure there are, but probably not as many as we hope. And sure as heck, not me.
But here is where I give myself some credit. I’ve accepted that I won’t be invited to every party. For a multitude of reasons. I’ve also developed a constant reflection that helps me feel less trapped in my hurt feelings.
First, I allow myself the feelings of hurt. Instead of stuffing it down somewhere within, only to turn into bitterness, I acknowledge my hurt feelings. Human beings feel hurt. It’s a natural emotion and nothing to be ashamed of. But I don’t allow myself to stay there. When I see a post on social media or hear what others are doing, I think about my friends’ character. Would my friends purposely try to make me feel jealous? Are they going out of their way to intentionally leave me out? That helps me find a healthy perspective, and I come to the realization that my friends are not jerks and wouldn’t do that. I acknowledge that my friends are allowed to participate in endeavors without me and the opposite is also true.
Other times when I’m feeling uninvited, I remind myself that others have a history that doesn’t always include me, and there is nothing wrong with that. When I think about this, my hurt doesn’t magically disappear, but often I find acceptance. That acceptance can even help me find happiness for my friends, and even if I’m not ridiculously joyous about missing out on something, I at least stop dwelling on it. I also hope when I’m experiencing something amazing in life, that my friends would be happy for me, too.
Can we just get real here? The more time we spend on social media, the harder it is to not compare ourselves or experience FOMO (that’s Fear Of Missing Out). Living these days through a pandemic, life can feel so unbelievably boring being holed up with the same people, or even being by ourselves, for days on end, and we use social media as a drug of escape. It feels delicious to get lost...until it doesn’t.
But let’s get to the bottom of this. If we’re feeling more negative than positive as we scroll through our “friends” feed, it’s safe to wonder about the depth of these relationships? Are we even invested in real relationships? Are these friendships building us up? And if not, why do we keep them around? OR WORSE, are these people, we are secretly jealous of, totally innocent, chasing their dreams and we are just too insecure about our own self-worth to be happy for them? This can be the hard truth that we don’t like to look at in the mirror, but if we don’t deal with it, it taints every relationship we have and keeps us from being happy for others and ourselves.
Feeling left out and being left out are two very different things. They both feel real and hurt deeply, but feeling left out isn’t always the truth. The friendships I count on are true and deep and I put weight in them because I’ve chosen good people to do life with. I have grown to understand that most people are truly not going out of their way to leave me out, but when we only act on our feelings, we are allowing ourselves to potentially be misled about reality. So let’s do ourselves a favor and really think about what we are allowing into our minds, and if it’s overwhelmingly negative, it’s time for a break from social media, and other times a complete break-up.
Melody McAllister is a mom of five, educator, blogger, and author. She and her family left the DFW area to live out a new adventure in Alaska! Melody has been a classroom teacher for mostly upper elementary but is now a home educator for her four oldest children.
Melody originally wrote the I’m Sorry Story to help her fifth graders understand how to take responsibility for hurtful words and make sincere amends with friends. Inclusivity is at the heart of the illustrations and font. It’s a great conversation starter and includes activities and questions as a follow up for teachers and parents. She loves visiting with classes and sharing her story for a read-aloud! This story is great for all ages! You can find it at bit.ly/imsorrystory.