It was a quiet Tuesday morning in February. My kids were all back to school, and all three had made sure to pack leftover Valentine’s Day candy in their lunches. I managed to tuck a few of their chocolates in my hiding spot for later—inside the coffee mugs in the high cupboard- safely out of reach of my tallest child. I grabbed my re-heated coffee from the microwave, flopped on the couch, and began scrolling Instagram Stories.
I smiled, seeing a picture of my niece in goofy sunglasses and my cousin’s sweet new baby—chubby cheeks and first smiles. And in the next instant, my heart sank.
My friend had posted a picture of what was clearly a Friday night Valentine’s party-that I had not been invited to. While I had spent V-day doting on my kids, taking them to the trampoline park, making heart-shaped everything, from brownies to grilled cheese sandwiches, a bunch of my friends had a grown-up evening, surely full of laughs and not-grilled-cheese-sandwiches.
Whether you’re twelve years old or forty-five. We all secretly want to be invited, even if we don’t want to go. While I wouldn’t have traded the quality time with my kids, of course it hurt to see a picture of my friends having a good time without me. While the details might differ, I’m guessing you’ve been left out before, too.
The stories we tell ourselves about pictures we see on social media can make us feel like the victim, when the truth might be something far more benign. Start by changing your inner dialogue and speak truth over the lies that can get twisted up in our minds.
Remind yourself of these 3 truths:
Surely, you do have friends, even if they don’t live in your zip code. Give them a call and have a chat!
It might have been a simple oversight, not an intentional personal attack. People are not thinking about us as much as we think they are. Extend grace.
As much as it hurts in the moment, feeling left out is an opportunity for growth.
The Gift of Empathy
Call it looking on the bright side, or a silver lining or what have you, but once you’ve felt the sting of rejection, your eyes are forever opened to the lonely, lost or hurting.Make no mistake, this is a gift- a superpower even.
Being able to spot another human who might be wondering whether she matters in this world is extraordinary. When you have the gift of empathy, you’re more likely to be an includer, to make sure nobody else feels the sting of rejection.
This might look like extending an invitation to a new neighbor, striking up a conversation with someone standing alone, or hosting a play date for an overwhelmed mom who could use a friend.
The desire to belong is universal. We can’t control who invites us, but we can control who we include. When we stay connected to our true friends, give grace, and cast a wide net to include others, those social media posts sting just a little bit less.
Kara has been a Navy wife since 2001, marrying a sailor she met on the beach on a spring break trip. She is a Pacific Northwest native currently living the California dream with her husband and 3 kids in sunny San Diego. She is a freelance writer whose work can be found in a variety of publications serving the military community. As a mentor and blogger for the Military Spouse Advocacy Network, she connects with new Navy spouses to guide them in their own journeys. As a Registered Dietitian Nutritionist, Kara can often be found reading cookbooks like juicy novels and is usually thinking about what's for dinner. Connect with Kara on her blog where she writes regularly at https://karaludlow.com, and on social media at https://facebook.com/karaludlownavywife and https://instagram.com/mskaraludlow.
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