Wednesday, November 12, 2008

Left out.

Why, hello. Step inside. Welcome to my pity party ...

You know ... I really don't think I'm overly sensitive. Ordinarily I'm fairly well-balanced and able to shake off affronts by giving others the benefit of the doubt. ("Oh, they didn't mean anything by that ... They like me ... They wouldn't purposely try to hurt me.") And many times I just don't give a big ol' rat's patootie. But I'd be lying if I didn't admit that sometimes things do hit me the wrong way, and I get my feathers ruffled.

Lately, I've been feeling a bit left out of extracurricular activities around the workplace. The attorneys that I work as secretary for enjoy lunching together at various downtown restaurants on a daily basis. Shortly prior to noon each day, one or more of them will begin roaming the hallways, seeking lunchtime companions and proclaiming loudly that "it's time to eat!" Last Friday, one of the young attorneys strolled down my hallway and announced that he was in the process of "inviting everyone" to go out for lunch. Apparently, "everyone" is code for only the other attorneys, as he strolled right past my office, glanced into my open door, looked into my eyes, and kept walking.

I wasn't invited.

Then again, the support staff is never invited -- unless it's to mark some silly, Hallmark-induced occasion like "Professional Assistant's Day." And I'll be honest. I'm not really sure I even want to go to lunch with these folks on a regular basis, but it sure would be nice to at least have the opportunity to accept or decline an invitation once in a blue moon. As it is, the blatant snub has a way of causing one to feel like a non-entity, which doesn't contribute to positive workplace morale. At least not for me. When you hear with regularity, "Hey, we're all going to lunch!" -- and you know that you aren't included in the equation, well ... it stinks.

Yesterday my coworker began talking to me about a pregnant woman in another department, with whom we've both worked on occasion. "Did you realize she's due on December 31st?", she asked. "I must stop by Kohl's after work to pick up a baby gift."

"Oh? Is there going to be a shower?" I inquired. "Well, yes!" she exclaimed, "This coming Friday."

I wasn't invited.

As she continued to talk about the shower and the baby gift she planned to buy, I found myself growing increasingly hurt (and cross) and finally interrupted with a terse, "Look, I didn't get an invitation, so I know nothing about this." You'd think that would have given her pause and perhaps she'd have downplayed the event, but no ... she continued to talk animatedly about the shower. And this morning, she brought in the little pink outfits she'd purchased to show me. (Insensitive much?) Honestly ... I thought I'd made it clear that I felt excluded, yet she continued to act as though there had been no slight (intented or otherwise), cheerfully gloating over the baby clothes and the upcoming party. So I did what any self-respecting, grown woman who feels like she's in junior high school all over again would do. I feigned complete disinterest.

(Yawn. Your crummy shower BORES me.)

It definitely doesn't feel good to be excluded, but I know I'm somewhat silly for allowing myself a poor-pitiful-me wallow. It feels rather peculiar to be 46 years old -- to know that by this point in my life I should be able to rise above offenses that are of little consequence -- yet at times I do revert to reactions that call to mind mini-dramas from my early adolescence. My Grannie, who turned 91 last week, recently shared that she is often taken aback when she looks into the mirror and an old woman returns her gaze. She still feels like a young girl on the inside ... and I fully understand. I suppose we never really lose that inner child, for better or worse. Sometimes we still wonder if we're truly accepted and valued, if we're "part of the group." Sometimes we feel we're on the outside looking in, lonely even in a crowd of acquaintances. In those times when we experience the cold shoulders of others, I suppose it's common to turn our hearts toward home -- to that safe haven where we know we're loved and wanted, no matter what.

And that's how I'm feeling today. I just want to go home.


  1. Oh Lord - "been there, done that"! I now have built like a "wall" around myself - thinking - I'm only here for the paycheck - really - would these be people I'd REALLY want to hang out with OUTSIDE of here? But sometimes, when things are stressful and miserable, it HELPS to have camaraderie (sp?) with the coworkers! We are having our Holiday Party THIS weekend (even before THANKSGIVING!) and I have opted not to attend this year! It will either be A) Awkward - all the "bigwigs" in their clannish cliques and then all the "little people" behaving badly (getting drunk, dancing suggestively, etc.) I just don't "feel it man"! Don't want to be a part of EITHER crowd! You go home to that your little sanctuary (that's how I see MY place!) and enjoy!

  2. Welcome to my party, Hon! I've been a non-entity my whole working life, but I use my voice and my attitude a lot when they do this to me. That's one of the reasons I'm marked as a trouble maker.

    Once had a boss at the insurance company who had a party for the whole office except for me as I had to stay back and answer the switchboard. Hearing all the laughing and contest winning really broke my heart as they were just down the hall. Then this creep came out afterwards and said to me, "There's still food back there if you want some." Let me tell you, I laid this man out when I had my performance review and told him how it made me feel. He just said, "You take everything too personally, it was no big deal." I said, "Yeah, and I guess everyone winning all the baseball tickets and having a great time while I was stuck out here was no big deal either, right?"

    We could so talk you and I, and Mia from Stoned Knitter (who is also a non-entity where she works). Hold your head up though, don't let them see your hurt. They don't matter and never will. We know we are special, and we're so much better than they can ever hope to be. We just need to wait for retirement and those people won't ever bother us again. xxoo

  3. Another outsider -- often caught with my nose pressed against the glass walls of the "groups" Tonight I'm sitting alone -- and everyone I know is OUT. Often I'm left thinking thoughts of different possible reasons: "no children" "no outside visible job" "weird ideas" "talks about stuff like decorating" But now the list includes:"too old" "not enough spending cash" "so not cool clothes"...... and the reason that has haunted my whole life: "ugly" So I make awkward excuses why I couldn't possibly free up my schedule in case an invitation should pass my way .....

    Jan at Rosemary Cottage (who hates mirrors especially in dressing rooms and has party clothes that never see the light of day.)

  4. Oh Jen, I'm sorry. I know how that feels. I would have invited you. Chin up.

  5. I once worked for a group of surgeons in Dallas and believe me, there were never going to be any invitations to any of the staff for lunch! The whole atmosphere was that you were lucky to be working for them, and they were just so far above the staff. I really thought that was the way it was everywhere until I got a new job, and these docs actually treated you as an equal. They didn't ask us to lunch, but at least one felt valued.

    As far as the shower - it is SO their loss!!! I'll bet you would have bought something gorgeous, and now nothing.

  6. oh jen... sorry to hear that. and i can understand it when you say the lady looked at herself and saw an old lady looking back at her. i get that as well... realization that you're getting old but still feel like 21 inside, still fantasizing about daniel craig! (just saw the bond you see) :) oh.. how i wish i live closer to you. then we could go out and have a cuppa tea with scones and cream :) that would cheer anyone up!

  7. I just wanted to come back and say how very much I appreciate the kind words that each of you left. Having someone commiserate and sympathise with me helped enormously, although I gotta say that it saddens me to know that some of you deal with some very hurtful things as well. Jan, your comments especially just make me want to cry. I wish for each of us assurance when we're feeling uncertain, comfort when we're down really low, and always the ability to find peace in whatever situation we find ourselves.

  8. I too understand why you'd feel bad at exclusion. I'm 66 now but still remember how hurt I was when I was around 20 and the department chair I worked for at a University invited all the professors and grad students and just about everybody else to his home for a departmental party. Probably the only other person excluded from the invitation besides me was the janitor. It wasn't that I really wanted to go, I actually am not sure I would have gone anyhow, it was just the fact that I seemed to have been singled out for exclusion and it felt just awful--and still does! It announced to my heart in neon letters that I just wasn't (1) good, (2) smart (intelligent), (3) sophisticated, or (4) myriad other reasons--choose one! Not rational, but real! Good post.


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