On Feeling Left Out

One thing that drove me absolutely bonkers as a child was the daily experience of feeling left out. Of everything, it seemed.

I am the youngest of three girls. My two sisters are 5 and 7 years older than I, so developmentally we were on different tracks much of the time – and they were clearly far more advanced once I was old enough to want to do everything they did! Back then, whether they were doing homework, talking on the phone, french braiding hair, learning to drive, getting ready for prom, etc., I was like that little yippee dog that jumps up and down, trying to take a peek or to get noticed – or both. I am sure I was super-annoying, but everything I was mentally or physically able to do at that point was not nearly as exciting as what they were up to. The few times I gained admission into their world was like stepping into the presence of the Almighty – an honor, sort of frightening, but entirely worthwhile. Even when they would include me, it was fun, but I could tell that whatever they were up to was beyong my realm.

Most of the time, though, I was shut out. This was not meanness on their part, but I didn’t know it then. Because we lived out in the country, I didn’t have a group of friends readily accessible. So, I spent a good amount of time angry at my sisters or my parents for making me feel left out. Boredom and anger drove me to entertain myself.

I sometimes still feel left out when I think about how my sisters now have children in elementary school while we haven’t even started to have children yet. I feel left out on behalf of our unborn children, which is absolutely silly of me.

In high school and college, I hit rock bottom emotionally quite a few times. Even though I was part of groups, had good friends, there were days where I felt like I was left out, and even invisible. What a painful way to go through life. I think when I finally left school – an institution of life where even though you are there, you don’t necessarily belong – I had to work as I should have all along to establish friendships and my leadership potential. Everything I’ve done since college has been on my own initiative – none of this waiting around, hoping for someone to notice me or force my way in to groups. I get so frustrated looking back at my lump-on-a-log self from back then. I am grateful that I looked up and looked around me and got off of that log.

I worry when, here at age 28, I still experience feeling left out. It’s totally silly, I should be over it. I auditioned for a show back in September, fully expecting that I would get in it. I have not worked with that company before and I am pretty sure I bombed my audition as I never heard back. The show opens in two weeks, so it’s safe to say I didn’t get in. It’s a show that would have a large ensemble, so I don’t get why I wasn’t cast, based on what I hear from others who know me and have heard me sing. If I couldn’t sing, someone would have told me. Maybe it’s my acting. All the same, I didn’t get in, and so I feel left out.

I have to turn to thoughts of where and when I do feel included. This includes feeling needed. I could list them all out, but it’s pretty much everything I’ve listed before for which I am thankful and what I enjoy. I remind myself that by existing and showing the world my interests and using my voice to tell others that they are included, I shine light on the shadow of loneliness that wants to overshadow my life. It won’t win.

So I turn my light on. Let it shine.

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6 thoughts on “On Feeling Left Out

  1. Susan, I’m almost 45 & I still feel the exact same way you do. I do have to say though when I was approaching 40, I did finally decide I didn’t care what people thought of me for the most part. I make my own life & I take responsiblity for my own life. When I feel left out, I remind myself it’s their loss not mine.

  2. Thank you, Jackie, for validating my feelings! I am approaching that point, thankfully, as it’s much more liberating to make life what I want it to be, not what comes along in the current.

  3. I think that acknowledging you’re having these feelings will help you get where you want to be. It’s like now you can say, “How much do I care about this and why?” Whereas when we’re younger, we just experience the feelings and expect that they are part of life and wallow in them.

    I tend to overanalyze people’s reactions to me as a person. Still thinking about what I did wrong at a first meeting, why wasn’t I funnier… stupid stuff. It’s taken me a lot of years to really wrap my head around the fact that, for whatever reason, not everyone will like me, because not everyone likes everyone else. I can’t quite squish that little girl voice that wheedles, “But, why noooot?” But luckily she’s a lot quieter than she used to be.

  4. Wow I’m the oldest in this situation and I never thought of how I treated my youngest sister. Today, we’re actually BEST of friends. My youngest sister and I get along waay better than, me and my middle. 🙂

    1. Thanks for commenting! I went back to read this post as I wrote it a while back. Sounds like you’re one of at least three girls, too? There is something really special about that. 🙂 Glad you and your youngest sisters are such good friends!

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