I was not nominated for the ice bucket challenge.
Last month, I watched my Facebook feed as video after video popped up starring my friends and favorite celebrities. In each video, they talked about supporting research to find a cure for amyotrophic lateral sclerosis, commonly known as Lou Gehrig’s disease, a severe neurological condition. Those nominated dumped a bucket of ice water over their heads and nominated others to donate or do the same.
As the days passed and more videos appeared on Facebook, I steeled myself — and my checkbook — for the inevitable. Someone was obviously going to nominate me, right?
Nobody ever did.
I thought I was going to feel just fine. I could always donate without dumping cold water on my head. After all, isn’t that what Jesus told us to do in the Gospels?
After thinking about it, I started feeling something I hadn’t experienced in a long time. I felt left out. Being excluded made me feel empty, embarrassed and sad. I wondered: Does nobody like me? Was I unpopular? Have my friends forgotten I exist?
Whether it’s being left off the invite list for the party of the year, being picked last for kickball or not being sent that funny group text, everyone I know can cite at least one time when everyone’s been in on the joke except them.
It feels low. When you’re feeling left out, the best thing to do is to be proactive.
Instead of waiting for a party, throw one. Gather your friends for bowling, laser tag or a picnic. Be the organizer instead of the person who waits to be invited. Do all of the things you’ve wanted to do, whether it’s going out to a movie, riding bikes or auditioning for a play.
You’ll start having fun and you’ll make yourself more popular simply because you’ll be having the most fun.
If you’re feeling left out, talk to your friends and don’t let resentments fester. The reason you were left out doesn’t always have to be malicious.
Perhaps they thought you were already busy, or there was simply a misunderstanding about your schedule. During my freshman year of college, I was left out a lot because I was always complaining about how much homework I had. I thought my friends were being terrible people, and spent hours agonizing about being left out. But they were trying to be nice by allowing me enough time to finish my work.
Are you doing all of the above and still being ignored or left out? Maybe it’s time to find a new group of friends, people who will value you and want to hang out with you instead of leaving you behind.
Join a new team or club, participate in a new activity or talk to those people at the church youth group you don’t know. Life is too short to spend pining after people who no longer really care about you.
Feeling excluded or left out isn’t a great feeling but being proactive certainly is. Instead of feeling left out of the ice bucket challenge, I’m going to gather a few friends and volunteer at the charity of my choice.
I encourage you to do the same.