Even the Dali Lama has noted that Humans find happiness in social relationships. I feel like I have found this to be more and more true each day. Growing up, I don’t remember having a lot of girlfriends and when I was in college I had a few close girlfriends and even a few close guy friends. Both sets of friends were a strong social foundation for me.
Luke has a big group of College friends (with wives) that he still is very close to and I have also become close to them and their wives. It is important to feel belonging. Social Anxiety Disorder is related to feeling like you don’t belong, and I am certain there are other aspects of anxiety that stem from not belonging or being excluded. As a couple we have had a few close couple friends (outside of the college friends and our “home” friends). It feels good to go out to dinner or do social activities with like-minded people. Recently, we had a dinner party and three other couples were there. We got into an in-depth conversation and we all remarked how great it was that we were among like-minded people. I just turned 39 years old and it just dawned on me how important it is to surround yourself with like-minded people. Some say that you are the average of the five people you spend the most time with. That was a shocking realization a few years ago and diverted my time to people that I felt good being the average of.
The girls and I were talking about going to a birthday party on Saturday and I heard Franchesscca say “Victoria you should go, I never get invited to them.” I stopped and looked at her. “What do you mean?” She said “well, everyone has a birthday, mom, and I never get invited to them.” Wow. What an observation. Franchessca is one of the sweetest children I know. She may give me attitude once in a while but the reports we get from her teachers, coaches, etc is that she is a sweet child. Why does she only have one close friend from school, I thought. Should I be concerned? I asked her if she was OK. She said she was fine that she doesn’t mind because she feels she hasn’t found “her people.” We then went up North. I watched her interact with children her age, both girls and boys. In the community I grew up in. She was loving it. I took her to camp (her sixth week at camp), and from the moment she got out of the car, counselors and campers were rushing to give her a hugh with “Franchessca! So happy to see you.” There isn’t a problem with her not having a bunch of friends in certain groups. She is a lovable girl and those aren’t her people.
Victoria went to a birthday party and a child was running around telling everyone that she is a “big fat liar.” She was in the corner crying and talked about it endlessly afterwards. How it made her feel sad, insecure and upset. Both Franchessca and I talked to her about not letting it bother her. That it was their loss. That if people are going to exclude you, move on to the next opportunity of friends. Don’t surround yourself with people that make you feel less. Victoria has a good group of friends, but I recently dropped her off at camp as well. Someone I know sent me an instant message to say that she saw her at camp and she came over to her child to introduce herself. She said, “Hi I am Victoria, what is your name?” Those are the stories I want to hear about my kids. I don’t want to hear that they were mean to another child or think they are “too cool.”
I read often about people who feel excluded at the playground or at social events. They feel uncomfortable because they don’t feel part of the group. Here is my conclusion. They aren’t your people. Don’t try to make them your people. At the end of the day, we are all parents trying to raise good humans and its not easy. I recently heard someone say “being cruel isn’t cool. Being kind is cool.”