Misfit Monday: Left Out?

No, I’m not talking about that lunch meat that someone forgot to put back into the fridge, that you really shouldn’t eat. I’m talking about way back when (in my case, at least), when one of the simplest, most unintentional things makes us feel terrible: being Left Out.

If you were like me, and were the slowest runner in your class, you know all about this. Being the last one picked for anything in gym class. Being the only one guaranteed to strike out when forced to play softball (because yeah, when you’re as bad at it as I was, it sucked). Being the unpopular kid, the one that didn’t get invited to the cool kids’ parties. Of course now, I look back and think, I wouldn’t have enjoyed those parties anyway (talk to people I don’t know? who were all drinking when I wasn’t?). But back then, it was just being Left Out. If I were a holiday TV special, I’d be Rudolph the Red-Nosed Reindeer.

It happened in college too. See, freshman year, I was an English major. Writing was something I’d always wanted to do. Then over the summer, my dad had the “what are you going to do for a job with this” talk with me. Since I didn’t want to be a starving writer, and I liked art too, I changed majors. It worked out well, because the way the courses were set up, I could cram four years’ worth of major courses into three years – and graduate on time.

I met wonderful friends in some of my art classes. They were all a year younger than me, freshmen when I was a sophomore. But in my other art classes, the ones that were all sophomores, most people already knew each other from a year of being in class together already. Cliques had formed. Cliques I might have been a part of in the classes where everyone was new like me, but in the second-year classes, I was left out. Since I had my own artsy friends, I didn’t care, and unlike elementary and high school, it wasn’t like the students in the older classes weren’t nice to me – they were. I just wasn’t really one of them. Having my own band of misfit friends helped.

You’d think this stuff stops after we get out of school. It doesn’t. People can be clique-y in workplaces (thank goodness, not mine!) and really, anywhere people congregate, even online.

More recently, this has happened to me in online classes. Several years ago, one of my RWA chapters offered an online workshop on query letters, taught by a big NYT Bestselling Author. Every one who took the class and participated got aย query letterย critique by the NYTBA.

Except me. By the time I found my big girl panties and emailed the workshop coordinator to ask about it, the NYTBA had left the building. So no critique for me. It was a free class, and I already had a good query letter, so it wasn’t a big deal, but…. yeah. That Left Out Feeling never goes away, even when we can’t imagine that it’s intentional.

I was Left Out in another online workshop a couple months ago – mine was the only homework assignment the instructor didn’t address in the class. I still got a twinge of that Left Out Feeling, even though I’d taken workshops with this author before, and knew it was simply an oversight. This time I found my big girl panties right away, so I emailed her. Not only did she post my assignment, but several others in the class gave me some very nice feedback, and the instructor offered me a future workshop for free.

Yet that Left Out Feeling never stays far away from misfits! Just last week, it hit me again in a networking group I’m in on Facebook. I’d signed up for an activity offered by one of my peeps, yet when the schedule came out, I wasn’t on the list. This lady’s a class act, someone I’d interacted with plenty of times before, and she’d scheduled peeps whose credentials were as unimpressive as mine, so I figured it had to be a mistake, and posted.

It turned out, it was a mistake – mine! Yes, I’d signed up, but I hadn’t seen the instructions to provide her with my email address – d’oh!

Sometimes when we get Left Out, it’s our own fault!

So speak up, jump in… and who knows, you may be Rudolph the Red-Nosed Reindeer, and end up doing something very special!

What about you – were you Left Out as a kid? What about now? Do you still get that Left Out Feeling, even when you know it’s unintentional? I’d love to hear from you! Let me know I’m not alone – or if I’m just too neurotic!

Jennette Marie Powell writes stories about ordinary people in ordinary places, who do extraordinary things and learn that those ordinary places are anything but. In her Saturn Society novels, unwilling time travelers do what they must to make things right... and change more than they expect. You can find her books at Amazon, Barnes & Noble, Smashwords, Kobo, iTunes, and more.

22 Responses to \

  1. You are not alone! We are all neurotic! ๐Ÿ™‚ At least us shy-types are.

    I had a friend in HS. Our lockers where next to each other and she lived down the street from me. Then she joined the band. I might as well have not existed after that. Then I joined the band the next year (not because she was in it, I just loved band). She still refused to acknowledge me. Kind of made me wonder what I had done wrong, but no way could I ask her that.

    This kind of stuff doesn’t help when you’re shy and have a hard time making friends as it is. You just assume the same thing will happen again, so you don’t try. Why put yourself through that kind of pain if you don’t have to? This kind of attitude is soooo hard to outgrow, too. I know. I’m still working at it!

  2. It’s a feeling that never goes away! But you are right, often it’s because we automatically assume it’s a slight, rather than a mistake. Still I get the sad and pouty feeling first. I could do without that. ๐Ÿ™‚

  3. Stacy, I’m glad to hear it’s not just me!

    Coleen, I wish I’d not get that Left Out feeling too. Thanks!

  4. I’m hearing some of this with my high school halls series. I have to admit feeling left out at times then and now. My big issue is that, while I feel very feminine in many respects, I don’t care one whit about cooking. So when the topic turns to sharing recipes, I don’t feel like one of the gals. I’m also not that into home decor, beauty tips, or shopping, so there you go. It is what it is.

    Thankfully, aging has made me far less concerned about fitting in. There’s something about being past-40 that just makes me care a little less. Why is that?

  5. Julie, LOL! I’m not into any of those things either, so I’ll be there with you on the no-recipes, no-fashion side! And you’re right, even though it still hits me sometimes, it’s a very fleeting feeling now. ๐Ÿ™‚

    Karen, you would have had to take on a whole gym class! Except that you were one of the ones left out with me, and that made it more bearable. ๐Ÿ˜€

  6. I’ve been a dork pretty much all my life and felt like such a misfit in high school, but didn’t realize most of us felt that way at that age. I’ve accepted my dorky, goofy self, for the most part, and my family and close friends love me that way. As far as you being a misfit, maybe that was once upon a time, but that photo of you next to your Camaro proves you’re the coolest of the cool! Even if you made a little mistake and didn’t send your email address! ๐Ÿ™‚

  7. I was always that kid who got picked last for sports. I am uncoordinated and have absolutely no athletic talent. What’s more, I didn’t care. I didn’t care who won or lost. I didn’t see the point. This further outcasted me.

    To make matters worse, I was an only child. I grew up not in a neighborhood of houses but out in the country. I interacted with adults only. Rather than rearranging everything to suit a kid, the adults expected me to converse on their level and about topics that interested them. Interacting with children was (and still is) hard for me. I still don’t “get” kids.

    By the time I neared the end of high school, I had had enough of being the one who didn’t fit in. I dated guys who were in their 20s. I had a job and responsibilities. I lived a different life than my classmates. Going to college for four more years of cliquey crap sounded almost as appealing as a Tabasco sauce enema. Almost.

    So I didn’t go. Several years later, tired of making minimum wage, I did go to college. But I still didn’t fit in. I was about a decade older than the other freshmen. Again, my life was different than theirs. But one thing was different. People were nice about excluding me.

    As an adult woman, I don’t fit in with women my age for a few reasons. One is that I never had children. You’d be surprised at how divisive this is. The other is that I never had the high-powered career a childless woman is expected to have. As in childhood, I have nothing in common with my contemporaries.

    To make matters worse, I stayed skinny. In high school, I wore a size 5 in jeans. As a nearly 40 year old woman, I wear a 4 or a 6.

    But then I found the writing community. Rarely do I feel like a misfit. People act like I’m part of the group. And it’s so nice. Sometimes, I do feel like I’ve walked into a room where I’m not welcome. But unlike high school, college, or cocktail parties, there’s always another room I can walk into where my friends might be.

    And you what? At nearly 40, I’ve gained the perspective to just not give a sh*t when I don’t fit in.

  8. Awww, Lynn, thanks! My 17-yo daughter thinks I’m cool, so that’s what matters.

    Catie, one of my best friends in high school was an only kid who always had a hard time relating to others our age. And I hear you about kids, even though I have one (having just one is still an anomaly around here!). Nope, not surprised at all that it’s divisive. But one good thing about getting older is we *don’t* care – and it’s OK! And isn’t the writing community great?

  9. I want to comment because I don’t want to be left out.

    I know the feeling. I’ve experienced it recently. You question, you doubt, you wonder what you did wrong, why people don’t like you, etc. etc. But, I didn’t dwell on it. I just laughed it off and thought “it was their loss not mine.”

    Good things come to those who wait – or get left out.

    Way to hang in there, Jennette!

    Patricia Rickrode
    w/a Jansen Schmidt

  10. LOL Patricia… I’m not sure why my site thinks you’ve never been here and made me moderate you, but I won’t leave you out! And yes, these days if it’s something important and/or I’m pretty sure is a mistake, I ask! Otherwise, gotta love your attitude!

  11. Oh yeah, I’m like Patricia. I want to comment so I’m not left out. Lol. I’m so happy to be hanging around with this group of misfits, Jennette. ๐Ÿ™‚

  12. This post could be all about me. I was always picked last. Funny thing is, later, when I got into Jr. High I ran some track and people found out I was really one of the fastest runners they could have had on their team. But I was always the odd one out – a geek and a dork. I’m okay with that now, except I still feel slighted sometimes. I have enough years behind me to know that it doesn’t matter in the big picture and I try not to let the opinion of the one or few affect me. After all, there will probably be more when I publish a book. ๐Ÿ˜€

    And speaking of cooking, I don’t. I don’t care about any of that stuff. Except my kind of fashion. So I too don’t care to follow all that girl chatter. Hot cars I could totally go for. ๐Ÿ˜‰

  13. My story’s like Catie’s — worked early, went to college late, didn’t have children. However, I did have a high-powered career and got so stressed it made me gain weight, so Catie, you didn’t miss anything ๐Ÿ™‚

    I have a tendency toward shyness, so if I get left out I don’t usually say anything. You’ve reminded me that sometimes it can be my fault and it doesn’t hurt to speak up! Thanks for a great post, Jennette.

  14. This is so me! I often feel like a misfit, even now at almost 31. I’ll make a comment on a post and it will get ignored. I’ll practically beg people to help me with a giveaway, and two people will sign up total. It’s very frustrating. And I’m sure a lot of it is that ingrained guilt at feeling like I’m bothering people when I ask for help, so when I do ask and it gets ignored (probably not intentionally), it makes it harder the next time. Being an introvert is very frustrating at times. ๐Ÿ™‚

  15. LOL Sheila – your comments always make me smile! ๐Ÿ™‚

    Debra K., I never did learn to run fast. But you know I can always go for the hot cars!

    Debra E., I got the degree, but steered clear of the stressful, high-powered career, mostly because I learned that I much preferred sitting at a computer doing the hands-on work to all of the meetings and schmoozing it took to move up. Thanks for stopping by!

  16. Samantha, I totally get that! And yes, that’s one of the reasons I have a hard time asking for help, too. Thanks for sharing!

  17. I started feeling left out when some guys I started with all got decent contracts and I signed with some guy in his garage.

    Some of their careers are over now, but it still left me smarting when my publisher went under.

  18. Oh wow Jim, you nailed a big one! Several years ago, I stopped reading a lot of blogs and got off a lot of writers’ email lists, because it seemed like everyone was getting contracts except me! And yes, people who joined my RWA chapter around when I did (or later!).

  19. Definitely a feeling that never goes away! In fact, sometimes I have to ask myself if the rejection is real, or if my “shadow side” is making too much out of it because of old, buried wounds. We all have them–I don’t know anyone who got through unscathed during childhood, so I think it’s wonderful when writers coach each other on the roller coaster of the artistic life. Great post!

  20. Jennette, I could have written this post. I was always the geeky nerd in school, walking round with the scorched-earth ring around me. I hate to ask for help, even now, and am still shy, but at least now that I am older, I can usually get past the hurt “left-out” feeling a bit faster.