Thursday, April 9, 2009

Odd Man In

Welcome to Thursday.

I’ve been reading some of mama’s old journals, and one or two of them are from when I was a teenager in high school. Thinking back to that time of my life, I can’t believe how much angst I seemed to have. But, now that I have a daughter who is 15, I remember that those feelings of isolation, depression and alienation from the “cool kids” was a very real feeling to me.

Fortunately, I’ve been able to grow out of those feelings and I don’t care nearly as much about what people think of me. Don’t get me wrong, I still have feelings and I love to be included. I think we all feel a little slighted when we’re not included, but for most of us, I think, the feelings aren’t as intense as they might have been when we were teenagers.

Still, no matter how old I get, I still cringe when I see someone at any age being treated as an outsider by those who still think of themselves as the “cool kids”. I really feel for them. Unfortunately, there are some adults who don’t seem to have been able to grow out of the cliquish stage. It’s something we see a lot of, if we just open our eyes and look around.

We see co-workers passing out party invitations to everyone they like, but ignoring others. We see people backbiting and gossiping about the “strange one” behind their back. We see everyone in the group invited out to lunch, except for one or two that just don’t seem to fit in.

This blog post was formulated earlier today when I noticed my wife reach out and start a conversation with someone at work who the rest of us were ignoring. We didn’t know him, he was different from the rest of us, and, well… that’s about all the excuses I’ll offer. We didn’t include him.

But she did.

She asked how he was doing, how he liked his job. She gently and kindly drew him into our conversation without making him feel awkward about it.

For the record, I’ve seen her do this a lot, and she’s really good about it. She has a sensitivity, a radar, if you will, about finding the odd-person-out and including them.

So, here’s your challenge for today (it’s mine, too!):

Be inclusive.

When you see someone who doesn’t exactly fit in to your “crowd”, make your crowd flexible enough to fit the person.

It could be someone who ordinarily annoys you. They may dress differently. They may have a strange accent. They may smoke or talk loudly or… well… you get the idea, don’t you?

Be sensitive to their feelings. If you’re going to do something as a group, see if you can persuade the others in your group to let them come along. Find a reason to like the person, and be kind to them.

That’s all there is to it. It’s not easy. You’ll likely find yourself outside your comfort zone. But, you can do it. I know you can.

Thank you for reading today’s post. I really appreciate you including my blog into your busy day.

Thank you also for being willing to repost, forward, retweet or otherwise passing it on. Kindness begets kindness and it will come back to you in unexpected ways.

Service is the Action Form of Love.


1 comment:

Jamie Favreau said...

Well the person you described was ME in high school. I have gotten over it since then and I haven't really worked anywhere full time to see Gossip in full action.

I don't judge people and I think it is key. Everyone has something to offer and everyone can learn from someone else whether they are old or young. No one knows what they have gone through.