Exclusion: The New Group Dynamic

I’m not a stranger to being the outsider. Growing up, I was always that kid that tagged along on the edge of a friendship group and never really felt included. I was the one who strived so hard for attention, but never really achieved it. The one who knew that inviting that group of friends to her birthday party meant that even there she would be left out. I got over it though. I realised that there were better people for me to enjoy life with, and that I didn’t need to keep proving myself to try and achieve acceptance. After all, not everyone gets along perfectly. Some can hate each other from the start, and others can rub each other up the wrong way for no more reason than a clash of personalities.

That’s what I’ve experienced recently; a clash of personalities. A girl joined a circle of friends and to begin with we got on, and then we didn’t. I got hurt and offended and, due to my anxiety, found it hard to turn up to social events where I knew she would be there. I received support and encouragement from the rest of the circle though, and began to feel better about it. I accepted it for what it was – a clash of personalities. No more, no less.

Then, the group dynamic changed. The old group seemed to be no more, but rather the new group came into play. A new group that I wasn’t a part of, that I only heard hints about.

I’ve never really been one to try and exclude or alienate someone unless I have a pretty damn good reason. I know how it hurts to be treated that way, and I wouldn’t wish that on anyone. I simply put up with it and try to be cordial or steer clear of the situation. I’ve never been a choose me or them kind of person because to me that just seems selfish and petty. So it really took me by surprise when I found out that choice had essentially been made anyway. It jolted me, and I felt a rush of cold sweep down my spine. The safety net I’d once had, the group I once felt I could tell anything too, no longer existed. Just like that, overnight. Because of a falling out two of us had had.

I get it, I really do. It’s difficult to keep the same level of friendship in those situations. There is, essentially, a choice to be made…whether or not it’s forced upon you. I guess I just didn’t expect to be the one on the losing team, especially after all the agreements and encouraging comments I’d got from others.

I wish them no hard feelings because there is no need for that. I just miss what I once had. It feels like there is something missing now, something that I was incredibly surprised and delighted to have experienced to begin with. I guess that’s what makes it so hard.

I have been sent back to those days on the playground. The days where I would feign illness and sit at the side rather than joining in, in the hope that one of my friends would come check up on me rather than fuss around the new girl. The days where I constantly wondered why my friends didn’t like or respect me as much as I did them, because most of the time I was shunned or laughed at. Those are the days I hope my son never experiences, although I know it is all part of growing up. It is something everyone experiences in life, but one that never gets easier.

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