Oh Getting Picked Last

I was scarred in elementary school. I think many of us were. There you are, six years old and feeling pretty good about yourself and you go to school. I have no clue when picking teams at recess started, but I believe it may have been that year. It really doesn’t matter when. At some point during those early school years I remember first feeling that panicky feeling in the pit of my stomach when teams were being picked and my name wasn’t called. Little did I know that that feeling would follow me far into adulthood.

I’ve got a relatively healthy self esteem. Most days I like me. I like that I’m a woman of opinions and convictions. I believe we have a responsibility to not just float through life. I like that I usually live my life consistent with my beliefs. I’m OK with most of the choices I’ve made in life. Oh, not all….not even close. I’m not someone who will tell you that I wouldn’t change a thing if I were given the chance, because “then I wouldn’t be the person I am today.” Pshhhh! No….there is much I would change. I’d like to be a different person, an even better person. I’d like to have been more adventurous…to not have played it so safe. I’d like to be less petty, less envious, less sensitive to the opinions of others. A better champion for others. More sensitive to feelings….or rather more active upon my sensitivities. I’d like to be even more reactive to the God-breath that blows through me. Too often I don’t let it carry me. I hold myself back.

But that “pitty” feeling. Or maybe I should call it that pity feeling. Because really, isn’t that what it is? A dose of self pity? Instead of having the esteem of a child of God, letting perfectly flawed people ruin it for us? Instead of going through life in an uninhibited dance, we instead get weighted down by the opinions of others. Or instead of feeling like a masterpiece of the Creator, we feel like….less!

We’re imperfect. So are the others around us. Sometimes I feel shut out, but sometimes I get a glimpse of how I shut other people out. How I don’t notice them because I am too wrapped up in me. I need to stop the focus on me and make it about someone else. Because really…..if the focus is not on us that feeling in the pit of our stomach seems to mysteriously stay away. At least in my case it does.

I’m an introvert who loves people. I’m someone who loves community. But I think sometimes I naturally put up barriers that isolate me. I think sometimes I still wait to get picked for a team….and walk away if it doesn’t seem to be happening. That’s no one else’s fault, really. Who am I to think others are responsible for engaging me and planning my life? For some of us there is probably always going to be the natural fear of rejection when we try to engage with others. I have a few friends that seem to prefer to be the planners. When I have tried to initiate an activity, they aren’t interested. When that happens several times, I tend to fade in the background. Is that wrong? I don’t know.

We’re in a world where a lot of people self-isolate. While a few may prefer it that way, I don’t think most do. I think we want to belong, we want to be engaged. Is it technology that disconnects us? Sometimes, but I know at least for myself it can also be the thing that keeps me connected. Recently an online friend (who has never met me in person) sent me a message to check on me. It was a weekend where I was feeling especially cut off from the world, and it gave me a big boost. It made me connect to someone who noticed something a bit unusual from my norm…..all the way in a different country! 
But technology probably also shows us where our social life falls short. We see others doing all kinds of different things, and we think we’re the only one at home on our couch. From my informal survey….no, we’re not!
We’re often too tired to plan (or is that just me?), too lazy to try to engage (even though technology makes that almost laughable), and I think we have just overall lost basic social skills and knowledge of hospitality. We tend to cling to the familiar and don’t realize those that are dis-connected. We aren’t on the lookout for those who also may be finding it difficult and we don’t realize all of the folks who would love the pleasure of our company.
We also just misunderstand people. We’re not as perceptive as we think. People often think I am a mad extrovert, just waiting for the next social event. They don’t know the sometimes paralyzingly fear I face before I attend an event, and the high level of internal persuasion that goes on to make myself follow through when I say I will attend. Even when I know people who will be there and have a pretty good idea it will be OK. If not for a basic belief that it is rude to back out at the last minute, I would back out often! I will probably have figured out where all the points of exit are within three minutes of arriving….and I will admit that sometimes I have hidden out in my car for periods of time when I can’t leave the event completely and there aren’t enough “comfy” people around (those to whom an introvert can attach themselves to get through a social event.) I know I am not the only one who does these things (and a few other secrets I won’t share)….but your secret is safe with me!
We live in a world where it is easy to get lost. I think it is easy to hide away. I don’t think it is emotionally healthy. I had to laugh a bit at myself recently when I hadn’t been around people for a few days and then was. Bless the hearts of those I was around…I talked a blue streak! Thankfully they were kind. Thankfully they were understanding. And thankfully I finally realized what I was doing and said “So, how are you?”….and listened to their answer.
The days of choosing teams should be over. But if for you it is not, give me the sign and I will pick you. And I will also give you a trophy for participation. There are times I don’t believe that is lame at all!

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