Finding Diana

An everyday woman's guide to figuring out what the hell happened to her life



Welcome to my world.  I am trying to figure out what became of me and I want to share this agonizing journey with the general public.

Please feel free to comment, but not to judge.  Ok, well we will all be judging, but just don't let me know about it.

Left out or opting out?

We have all been on both sides of this equation.  On the one side is the power holder.  The person or people who we really want to invite us to hang out with them.  We look up to them, think they are entertaining, cool and socially slightly above us.  We really enjoy their company and want to be just a little bit like them.   They invite us to hang out and to go places and do things.  It really makes us feel great.  Until.....we read on Facebook or hear from another friend that they went off to do something really fun with someone else.  Now you feel like a jilted lover.  How could they go see that movie with another person and not invite me?  What did I do?

As you get older, you realize intellectually that people can socialize with whomever they want.  That no one owes you anything and that it is not disloyal to have a wide group of friends.  But emotionally, you are still sitting in the sandbox left to play by yourself while all the cool kids are going to the see saw - which only has room for two.

As you get older, this competitive socializing can take on a life of it's own. It starts out innocently enough and then before you know it you are acting like a politician trying to get votes - kissing babies, shaking hands and making promises all in the hopes of keeping yourself with the IN crowd.  You get jealous when you hear about a card game you weren't invited to or a coffee that you missed.  You start to drag your family to events that no one else wants to go to in order to maintain your status.

But where are you in all this?  How easy it is to lose sight of what we strive for as we leave adolescence and go through adulthood - our own identity.  So what if your new friend didn't ask you to the ladies night out - maybe it wasn't her decision or that some dynamics just don't work.  You shouldn't take it personally.  Maybe she didn't ask you because as much as she likes you, she needed to hang out with a different group of people that gave her something she needed.  It could be more empathy or emotional support or comic relief.  It doesn't matter, no one can or should want to be all things to all people.

This leads to the other side of the equation.  There is always someone who really likes you and wants to do everything together.  Naturally, this makes us feel uneasy and gasping for air.  Everyone likes variety.  We have some friends we can bear our soul to but couldn't stand shopping with.  Others who are charming, but not someone I could discuss politics with.  And still others whom you like, but you hate their other friends or their spouse.  So the dilema becomes how do keep their friendship without it crushing you?

I don't have the answers.  I have been on both sides.  One famous example was a couple who I really liked and admired when I was younger.  We went out to dinner and when we finished it was like 9:30 on a saturday night in New York City.  My husband and I were ready to hit the town with our great friends.  But as we walked out of the restaurant, my frenemy said "which way are you going?" and then went in the opposite direction leaving us standing there like fools. Ouch. This same friend, on a different occasion, let it slip that she went to a mutual friends bridal shower - and she knew I wasn't invited.  It took me years to get over this rejection.

It wasn't until I realized that I could give as good as I could get that I could move on.  Although now, I must admit, I avoid her Facebook page and anything else that reminds me of that awful feeling.  Yet I have had people who wanted to be my friend.  I liked them, but not enough to want to spend every waking moment with them.  So I backed away and felt horrible about it.  I felt suffocated and grew bored of them.  It wasn't nice, but I was the dumper instead of the dumpee.

I am now hitting my stride where I can hang out with a group of people and enjoy it.  When I hear that other things went on without me - I'm cool with that.  I appreciate the time to chill and not have to be "on" all the time.  I also like having different groups of friends to bounce around.  It gets monotonous having the same people at every social outing.  Also, you can't bring some groups of people together, so it's better to enjoy them separately.  I make time for people I care about and cut out people that I feel I have to try too hard with.

Not to say that there aren't hurt feelings from time to time.  I had a couple we were friends with who borrowed a table because she was having her good friends over for a celebration.  Needless to say I wasn't invited.  It is kind of a joke or code word now in my head.  Still, even at my advanced age when I can laugh at it, I'm always crying just a little bit inside.

So the moral of the story is that we never exit seventh grade.  Pretty scary.

1 comment | Add a New Comment
1. David | October 24, 2010 at 09:58 AM EDT

You are \"the cool kid\" I want to hang out with.

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