Sometimes I feel like I’m not quite cool enough. Sometimes I feel like I’m not quite popular enough. Sometimes I feel like I don’t fit in the same way other people do.
Sometimes I feel like there is a group who maybe doesn’t really want me there. Sometimes I wonder why I wasn’t invited. Sometimes I walk up to a circle of people and I don’t know whether to force my way in, or be awkward hanging around on the outside, just twiddling my thumbs, kicking the dirt, talking to myself, waiting until I can leave and go home to the safety of my sofa.
Circles are great if you’re on the inside. They can be fun if you’re in one, but circles can be awfully cruel if you’re left on the outskirts, looking for a way to get inside.
They can be exclusive.
They can be excluding.
They can be exhausting.
They can be cliquish.
They can be childish.
They are far, far too common.
Stop building circles and build a U. Leave room for everyone. Make a way so anyone, any ‘you’ can walk up and feel like they have a place to stand.
Leave room for good people who look different than you, who run in different crowds than you, who like different things than you, who come from different places than you. Differences were never made to divide us. They were made to build us, and to teach us, to fill in the gaps where our own gifts give way and come up short.
Have your few trusted friends. Have your people. Keep them close. Spend time with them. Share your secrets with them. Work on building and maintaining and safe-guarding those sacred sisters.
You can’t be best friends with everyone.
But you can notice everyone. You can make room for everyone. You can be kind and generous and thoughtful and sympathetic to everyone. You can smile to everyone. You can make eye contact with everyone. You can probably even offer a simple ‘hello’ to everyone.
When you are out with a group, when you’re at a meeting, or an event, or a Bible study. When you’re at a kid’s soccer game, or a school function, or absolutely any public setting — lift up your unsuspecting head and look for the lonely. Chat with the new. Invite the introverts who will never invite themselves. Hug the hurting. Make room for more.
If you’ve ever felt that excruciating feeling of walking into a new place, of being surrounded with new faces, of being left out of group texts, of being excluded, don’t let those experiences go to waste. Turn it around and use them for something good.
Use it to recognize the hurting among you. Use it to recognize the lonely. Use it to recognize the left out. And then use it to reach out an invite, or a hand, or some kind of nice gesture.
It’s not an easy thing to do — getting out of your comfort zone, getting over yourself enough to help someone else, getting out your saw and your hammer and your nails right there in the middle of a crowd to build a bigger table. It’s not easy. If it was easy, everyone would do it.
We’re all guilty. We’ve all done it at some point. We’ve all been unaware, so there is no purpose in being mad, or angry, and there definitely isn’t any purpose in using it as an excuse to call people names, or tear someone down. Chances are, nobody is being mean. Nobody is being intentional. Chances are, they simply aren’t thinking, and we’ve all been guilty of not thinking before. But that doesn’t mean it’s okay. That doesn’t mean we should keep our blinders on. That doesn’t mean we should continue constructing our closed-off circles.
Be the kind of woman you wish someone had been to you.
Make a U.
Circles were made to be broken, but U’s were made to include everyone, to keep growing bigger and better and stronger.
U’s were made for us all.”
***I did not come up with the concept of creating ‘horseshoes’ instead of circles. The first place I heard it was Glennon Doyle. It is such a beautiful image.