Young People Ask . . .
Why Am I Always Left Out?
“On the weekend it seems as though everyone in the entire world is having fun except me.”—Renee.
“Kids will get together and hang out and leave me hanging!”—Jeremy.
IT’S a beautiful day, and you have no plans. Everyone else does, though. All your friends are out having a good time. Once again, you were left out!
Being among the uninvited is bad enough, but what it implies can be even worse. ‘Maybe there’s something wrong with me,’ you say to yourself. ‘Why doesn’t anyone want my company?’
Why It Hurts
The desire to fit in with a group of people and to be accepted by them is normal. Indeed, as social creatures, we thrive on interaction with others. Before creating Eve, Jehovah said of Adam: “It is not good for the man to continue by himself.” (Genesis 2:18) Clearly, people need people; it’s the way we were made. And that’s precisely why it hurts so much to be left out.
It can be especially disappointing if you’re left out repeatedly or if you’re made to feel that you just can’t measure up to the standards of those you want to befriend. “There are cliques of young people who are accomplishing great things,” says a young woman named Marie, “but you can tell that they think you’re not good enough to be around them.” When others exclude you from their group, you end up feeling left out and lonely.
Sometimes you can even feel isolated while in a crowd. “Crazy as it sounds,” says Nicole, “I remember feeling extremely lonely at a social gathering. I guess it was because I was around lots of people, but I didn’t feel particularly close to any of them.” Some feel lonely even while at Christian assemblies and conventions. “It seems as if everyone knows everyone but me!” says Meagan. A young woman named Maria feels similarly. She says, “It’s like I’m surrounded by friends but have no friends.”
No one is immune to feeling lonely—not even those who seem to be popular or happy. “Even in laughter the heart may be in pain,” states a Bible proverb. (Proverbs 14:13) When loneliness is intense and ongoing, it can be debilitating. The Bible says: “Because of the pain of the heart there is a stricken spirit.” Another translation renders the verse: “Sorrow can crush you.” (Proverbs 15:13; Contemporary English Version) If you have felt crushed because of being left out, what can you do?
To fight feelings of loneliness, try the following steps:
◼ Focus on your assets. (2 Corinthians 11:6) Ask yourself, ‘What are my strengths?’ Think of some talents or positive qualities you possess, and list them below.
When you feel left out, remind yourself of your strengths—such as those you listed above. True, you have weaknesses and you should work on these. Still, try not to become overwhelmed by your faults. Instead, view yourself as a work in progress. Everything may not be in place, but some things are. Focus on these!
◼ Widen out. (2 Corinthians 6:11-13) Take the initiative to meet people. Granted, this may be challenging. “Groups can appear to be very intimidating,” says 19-year-old Liz, “but if you just go up to one person and say hi, you’re suddenly part of the group.” (See the box “Conversation Tips.”) Speaking of being left out, make sure you’re not leaving anyone out—such as older ones. “When I was 10 or 11,” recalls a teenager named Cori, “I had a friend who was much older. We were really close, despite the age difference.”
Think of two adults in your congregation whom you would like to get to know better.
At your next congregation meeting, why not approach one of the people you listed above. Strike up a conversation. Ask that person how he or she became interested in the Bible. The more you reach out to “the whole association of brothers,” the less likely it is that you will feel left out and lonely.—1 Peter 2:17.
◼ Confide in an adult. (Proverbs 17:17) Sharing your concerns with your parents or another adult can help reduce your feelings of loneliness. That’s what one 16-year-old girl found out. At first, she worried too much about being left out. “I would think about what happened that made me feel left out,” she says, “replaying it in my mind. But then I would talk to my mom about it, and she would give me advice on how to deal with the situation. Talking it out really helps!”
If you ever need to talk to someone about persistent feelings of loneliness, whom could you approach?
◼ Think of others. (1 Corinthians 10:24) The Bible says that we should be “keeping an eye, not in personal interest upon just [our] own matters, but also in personal interest upon those of the others.” (Philippians 2:4) True, when you feel left out, it’s easy to feel depressed or sad. However, instead of sinking further into despair, why not do something for someone in need? You may even be able to forge new friendships that way!
Think of someone, perhaps in your family or congregation, who could use your company or assistance in some way. Write that person’s name below, and describe how you could help him or her.
When you think of people other than yourself and do things for them, you have less time to feel lonely. This can make you more positive in your outlook and demeanor, making you more attractive as a potential friend. Proverbs 11:25 states: “The one freely watering others will himself also be freely watered.”
◼ Be selective. (Proverbs 13:20) It’s better to have a few true friends who care about you than many so-called friends who may get you into trouble. (1 Corinthians 15:33) Consider young Samuel mentioned in the Bible. He may well have been lonely at the tabernacle. His fellow workers included Hophni and Phinehas, whose bad deeds made them poor choices for association—even though they were the high priest’s sons. For Samuel to try to fit in with them would have amounted to spiritual suicide. But that was definitely not what Samuel wanted! The Bible says: “All the while the boy Samuel was growing bigger and more likable both from Jehovah’s standpoint and from that of men.” (1 Samuel 2:26) Which men? Certainly not Hophni and Phinehas, who may even have shunned Samuel because of his good deeds. Rather, Samuel’s praiseworthy qualities endeared him to those who upheld God’s standards. People who love Jehovah are the kind of friends you need!
◼ Be positive. (Proverbs 15:15) Everyone feels left out now and then—at least to a degree. What can help? Instead of dwelling on negative things, strive to adopt a positive view of life. Remember, while you may not be able to control every aspect of your situation in life, you can control how you react to things.
When you feel left out, take positive steps either to change the situation or at least to change your view of it. Always remember that Jehovah knows how you are made, so he knows your needs and how these can best be filled. Pray to Jehovah about any persistent feelings of loneliness you may have. Be assured that “he himself will sustain you.”—Psalm 55:22.
More articles from the “Young People Ask . . .” series can be found at the Web site www.watchtower.org/ype
TO THINK ABOUT
◼ What positive steps can I take if I feel left out?
◼ What scriptures will help me to look at myself in a balanced way instead of being swallowed up by negative thoughts?
[Box/Picture on page 12]
◼ Smile. Your warmth will invite others to converse with you.
◼ Introduce yourself. Give your name and where you are from.
◼ Ask questions. Without being nosy, ask appropriate questions about the other person’s background.
◼ Listen. Don’t be thinking of what you will say next. Primarily, listen. Your next question or statement will come naturally.
◼ Relax! Conversation can open the door to new friendships. So enjoy the experience!