A good friend recently posted an article on Facebook about sometimes feeling invisible as a person/woman/mom walking into new situations or events with her kids. Basically, she had experienced isolation through the indifference or perceived aggression from other women at the events she was attending. Though I’m not a mom, I have also had that experience – that of feeling like an outsider SO many times – and wondered what I was doing wrong.
Many years ago, when I first began waiting tables at a very popular restaurant, I was terrified to try connecting with my co-workers. They all seemed to know and relate to each other on a deeper level – and I almost felt like I was crashing a party I wasn’t invited to. I just didn’t know how to break through to them, so I just stayed serious and silent.
The result? I was perceived as a stuck-up witch with a capital B. I can understand why now, but at the time I just thought no one liked me. Eventually, I made a few friends and became an invited party-goer in every sense of the word. But I never forgot the feeling of not belonging and it was not the first or last time I felt that way.
Fast forward a few decades and I have overcome my shyness a lot. In fact, most people who know me – at least professionally – would never describe me as shy or even guess that I am fairly introverted. As a natural performer, I’ve gotten pretty good at stepping into the role of welcoming business owner, confident entrepreneur, and entertaining speaker. And yet, I can still easily become a wallflower.
Example: A year ago I joined a coaching program which I talked about a few episodes ago. The program has some amazing people in it and I’ve gotten a lot out of it. However, the program blends past coaching CLIENTS with new members in a Facebook group – and we appear to be at vastly different levels of progress in our goals. There are some big achievers in there – or at least people who talk big – and it can be a bit intimidating to someone new.
In the same way, since so many people seemed to know each other, I was hesitant to reach out and become “friends” with them on social media. Instead, I sat back for the most part and awaited fellow program members to reach out to me. I figured the ones who felt we resonated would connect and some of them have. But then as I pulled away from the program due to personal issues – I let that opportunity slip away for the time being.
Well, today – on my last day – I heard some stories from other people who also felt they didn’t fit in or get into the groove of the program. A few folks shared a farewell story or why they weren’t coming back (nothing bad - just that they could see it was time to move on) and I saw myself in all of them.
Suddenly I had a thought – what if the people who were leaving had been waiting for individuals who resonated with them to reach out? What if by being silent and serious, I once again came across as a stuck-up witch with a capital B or contributed to their feeling of isolation? What opportunities did we each miss by staying against the wall or failing to reach out to “the new kids” at the party?
All of this made me consider my friend’s experience of isolation in a whole new way. But I also have to wonder why has it taken me a year to think about this. Insecurity? Fear of being rejected? Tunnel vision? Who knows. At least I see it now.
Thankfully, I also believe we are always in the exact right place at the right time with the perfect people for our journey. So instead of regretting it and bemoaning the lost opportunity of not connecting sooner, I sent friend requests to everyone in the group – over 200 people. Almost immediately they started getting accepted one by one by one. And though I wish I’d pulled myself away from the wall sooner, I’ve done it now. and am sure with the influence of some of my “new” connections, I will flower when the time is right. Link to the article that got me thinking about this issue: Article: Am I Invisible?