being left out and let in

Others don’t benefit from my tendency to act like I have better places to be—whether I do or don’t.

This is a truth that bears repeating: my fragile ego, not any other person, is the singular “thing” that is propped up, cared for, and tended to when I act like I have better places to be than where I am right now.

I remember the acute awareness I felt in high school when I knew everyone else was hanging out without me, and the somehow even-more-painful awareness that I was invited for part of something, but not the whole thing. Like my the double whammy of my personality and lack of social capital couldn’t bring it home for anyone.

“Oh yeah, we’ll text you if we’re doing anything later…” (no) Not enough fancy clothes, not enough money, no membership in the group.

I remember feeling that way in high school and making other people feel it in college.

“It’s just like… I have enough friends… you know?” I justify the callousness away. (no) Not enough social intelligence, not enough shared vocabulary, not one of us. (i think, but it’s arbitrary)

I moved to New York and I have friends and roommates and coworkers and coworkers and roommates who are friends but I also don’t yet have the interconnected web of 30+ lay-on-the-couch, Chick-Fil-A run, no-need-to-fill-the-silence, kitchen table debrief friends that I had because I lived in Nashville for 5 years.

I can’t compare the two but that’s all I can do. I compare how I didn’t give a shit about doing things alone in Nashville like seeing movies and going to work out because I knew I had cool fun friends
and they just didn’t want to come
or introverted Kendall didn’t want them to come
or something

and now here everything I do alone is an exercise in necessity (seriously, bc your girl needs bug spray) and prying my worth away from my huge, huge ego

So then when I get it in my head that I need to perform about my plans and how busy I am and how many “friends from school” and “friends from work” I have: I remember I don’t need to and that others don’t benefit from my tendency to act like I have better places to be.

When I was a junior in college, one of my friends joked that her friend group’s stumbling block that year was: What group text am I left out of? Right? 10 girls, one big group text, endless permutations of smaller groups… how do you strong-arm people into making sure you’re in all of them? You’re never left out and no one ever considers that they have stronger relationships with someone besides you? It was funny and scary at the same time.

What group text am I left out of?
What event am I left out of?
What bond am I left out of?
What life am I left out of?

There was a man on the train today singing gospels so beautifully that I started crying as I left the car. Before we got to my stop, he walked around to each person sitting, all staring at their shoes or out the window at the skyline—”Bless you” under his breath, “Bless you Bless you Bless you” and then he was off to another car.

I’m glad I was left out of whatever I was this Sunday at 12:24pm so I could meet the man on the train car. And it won’t go away for any of us, this feeling left out when you really really really want to be let in, because belonging is essential to humanness.

There’s a prayer hanging in my room—the Peace Prayer of Saint Francis (excerpted):

O divine Master, grant that I may not so much seek
to be consoled as to console,
to be understood as to understand,
to be loved as to love.
For it is in giving that we receive,
it is in pardoning that we are pardoned,
and it is in dying that we are born to eternal life.

I can be pretty shitty at giving instead of receiving, trying to understand instead of desiring to be understood, but I can see who I’m becoming now and I really like her and I think that’s great. I really like other people now too, and there was a time in this past year where neither of those things were true.

We’re all just on our way, right? See ya along the way—I’ll have nowhere better to be and really, really love it.


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