My freshman year of high school, I hung out with a group of girls. They were sophomores and very well known around the campus, and as a new student moving to a completely different school district, it felt nice to be under the wings of such a well-connected group. I was never the most popular or the most social growing up, so being around them made me feel cool…liked I belonged. But as the year progressed, so did their friendship…except, without me. They started to form all of these inside jokes, hosting kickbacks with other classmates, and growing closer and closer as friends. And with each day that went by, I was becoming more and more like an outsider. In fact, it started to feel like I was a bother. My presence started to seem like a burden to them rather than an enjoyment, and our differences as people started to become more and more apparent. But even though they were fine without me, I longed for their friendship. I wanted to embrace that companionship, even though the feeling wasn’t mutual. Because in my mind, any friendship was better than none.
One day, I overheard them talking about a kickback they were planning to go to on the last day of finals. As they were talking about the party, the only thing I could think of was how I wasn’t included in the plans. I wanted to believe it was an accident…like it was just a mere oversight in the grand scheme of things, even though I knew it wasn’t. “If I could just hang with them outside of school, maybe they’Il like me again”, I remember thinking as I watched them coordinate outfits and transportation for the event. I wanted to go so badly, but I didn’t know how to ask them if I could join…mainly because I knew deep down that I wasn’t wanted there.
Well, I guess my hidden desire was written all over face, because shortly after, one of the girls looked at me and said “If your parents let you go, Linda, you can come too if you want”. Trying to appear cool, I nodded my head and said ok. But inside I thought, “Finally! See, I knew they liked me after all”. Trying to convince myself of that lie, felt so much better than embracing the truth. When I got home, I immediately asked my mother if I could go. Instead of asking her usual laundry list of questions with a dangling “yes” attached to it, she just looked at me and firmly said no. When I asked her why she objected, she gave me a response that still gives me chills. She said: “Linda, they don’t want you there. And if that’s the case, you shouldn’t want to be there.” My body wanted to get upset with her and react in silent rage. I wanted to tell her how wrong she was and rebuttal her thoughts about my ”friends”, but my heart and mind wouldn’t let me…Because I knew she was right. And as her “no” started to resonate with me, I started asking myself, “Why would I want to attend? Why would I want to go somewhere where I am not wanted? What would I gain from that? Why would I surround myself around people who act as if I am a burden to them? Why would I want to chase after a friendship that doesn’t even really exist? Why?”
The truth is, sometimes we don’t have an answer. Sometimes we get so caught up in the idea of wanting to belong somewhere because it rescues us from experiencing loneliness. And because we fear that solitude so much, we settle. And in settling, we end up taking what is given to us, rather than what we deserve. Whether it be a friendship, a romantic relationship, or any other interaction you have, you DESERVE a proper invitation. And by a proper invitation, I mean that you deserve to be around people who celebrate you…people who appreciate your presence in their lives… people who see the value that you contribute to their lives and are enthralled by it. You are not just a mere oversight in the grand theme of things. You are not a fan looking to get an autograph signed by a group of celebrities. You are not a beggar looking for the acceptance and affection from others. You are someone worthy of companionship from those that recognize your greatness. You are someone that should be engulfed in relationships where your presence is appreciated and treasured with every waking minute that you all spend together. You are someone that shouldn’t settle for companionship, because you deserve the best companionship that a person can offer. So until you find that inner circle that has those qualities, be happy with befriending yourself. Be patient and pray that God not only sends you the kind of friends you want, but the kind of friends you need. Because THOSE will be friends that will cherish you, grow you, and will always grant you the proper invitation you deserve.