So this happened
I was sitting in the audience at an event with about 200 women. All ages, backgrounds...completely diverse group of ladies. The moderator chose 15 random women from the audience to come forward to the stage.
The 15 women were asked to simply form a tight circle, standing as close to each other as possible with no gaps. They were given no other directions. Then, the moderator chose another random audience member to join her on stage.
What happened next still gives me goosebumps
The moderator then asks the one woman who just walked on stage to try and join the circle.
Keep in mind, the women were asked to form a tight, no gaps, circle...no other directions were given.
The woman tried to join the circle and guess what?
NO ONE would let her in
This is a true story..the women stood as close to each other as possible...and kept the gaps closed. The woman tried to elbow her way in....at one point she even got on her hands and knees and tried to crawl in.
WHAT? Why was it the women's natural instinct to keep the circle tight?
I think we all know the answer and I also think there are times we have all felt this way. Simply....left out.
With social media being at the forefront of our society, it's not uncommon for us, at any age, to have the flood gates open and fear of rejection, or being left out come rushing in. How do you feel when you see the 'greatest hits' of life being posted and highlighted from a friend...and they happen to be at an event you didn't even know about?
I'm fearlessly facing fifty...I have felt this way at times. I've moved so many times (11 times - but who's counting) in my married life that I always felt like the person with the sign taped to them that said, "talk to me, I'm new".
I can think back to walking into a PTA meeting, and the room felt like it was shrinking and caving in on all sides, and the noise of all the women talking seemed to be echoing louder and louder in my ears...I desperately scanned the room to find a familiar face to sit next to...or I'd wait in the parking lot until a friend pulls in so we could walk in together....
I had that feeling of uncertainty and my heart starts pounding faster, and I'm tempted to turn around and walk out, or pull out of the parking lot and head to the Starbucks drive thru....
This doesn't just happen during those crazy teen years...it happens to us as grown-ups...yes...people like you, and me...that have raised their kids...been large and in charge of the family for years....but the feelings of being left out still creep in...
What if we were more willing to open our circles....and make them horseshoes
Glennon Doyle, says it best...."If you are standing with other women in a circle and there is a women standing alone in your circe's vicinity- the thing to do is notice her, smile at her, move over and say, "Hi, come join us!"
We teach this to our kids by always telling them to include everyone.
Don't leave anyone off the birthday invitation list
Sit next to the person sitting alone at the lunch table.
Are you an "includer" or "excluder"?
Think about a friend that brings people together. They are always finding ways to open the circles. And then think of another friend, that are comfortable within their circle and it's a challenge to let others in.
And so....circles continue
Being outside the circle can be lonely
When your kids are older, there aren't weekly play groups. Your kids are driving themselves to school, so the drop off and pick up lines are not part of the routine. At this stage of life, women are trying to sort out where they fit in..maybe they head back to their career that's been on hold for years, maybe they're pursuing a passion that's been on the back burner.... but this is also a time that can be isolating and feelings of being invisible set in.
Let's open our circles and become horseshoes
Challenge yourself this week to open your circle. Pick up the phone and set up a lunch date with someone that you haven't seen for awhile. Walk over to the new neighbor and introduce yourself. Make your way over to the group that 'always sits together' at the soccer or football games and simply say, "hi".
There should never be a membership cap on friendships (even at 50 years old)