It’s never fun to hear everyone else talking about their plans, when you know you’re not invited. There aren’t a lot of situations that will make you feel like more of an outsider than that. No matter how big or small the event is, everyone wants to get invited, for reasons that may not have anything to do with what’s being planned. The fact is an invitation means something important. It means you’re included. It means you are seen as a part of the group. It allows you to cross over the line between acquaintance and friend. But getting invited can be tricky, especially if you’re not someone who already has a thriving social life.
So here are some do’s and don’ts to help you out…
- Do focus on building relationships: You may want to fast forward to the part where your social calendar is filled with plans, but that’s usually not something that happens overnight. People are more likely to include you if they’ve had time to really get to know you. So instead of worrying about what everyone’s doing later, focus on the time you’re getting to spend together now. Have conversations. Get to know them on a personal level. Make sure you actually enjoy being around each other before you commit to spending even more time together. If you can build a solid friendship with one or more members of the group, then you’ll have a much better chance of being included in the future.
- Don’t take it personally: It might be hard to see it this way, but the fact that you were invited doesn’t necessarily mean they don’t like you. Maybe they’ve all been talking about seeing a specific movie together for weeks, and didn’t realize you were interested in seeing it to. Maybe they thought you’d be busy because they know you usually have scheduled activities after school. It could have been an oversight, instead of a slight against you. If you have had generally positive interactions with this group of people otherwise, there’s no reason to think they meant to hurt you.
- Do be proactive: We’re all guilty of doing things out of habit. Making social plans is no different. When a person has had a set group of friends for a long time, they get used to doing everything with just those people. Inviting someone new means coordinating with another schedule, considering another person’s preferences, etc. For many people, it’s a lot more convenient, and even comfortable to stick with the usual plan. To help break them out of this habit and show them you want to be a part of the group, you could try being the one to make the plan. Don’t be discouraged if not everyone is free to hang out when you want. The fact that you asked is important, because it shows your interest in having a friendship outside of school.
- Don’t invite yourself: Saying things like “I’ll come too” or “I’m going with you” can cause others to see you as pushy or rude. We understand that it can be frustrating to be overlooked, but in this case, taking matters into your own hands won’t usually help. If you want to be a little more assertive, then you can try inquiring about the plan to show that you’d be interested in being included. Asking questions and expressing an interest in the activity will let others know that you’d like to join, without taking away their option of inviting you.
- Do be honest when you’re feeling left out: Like we mentioned earlier, it’s important to build some friendships in the group before you start expecting to be included in their plans. If those friendships are strong like they should be, you’ll be able to be honest about how you’re feeling when you get overlooked. There’s no need to accuse or start a fight. Have an open-ended conversation. Ask questions like “is there a reason I wasn’t invited to…?” or “Could you let me know the next time you guys are going to…?” This will give you a good idea of where you stand in the group, and could help your friends to correct what might be an honest mistake.
Sometimes you’ll find that no matter what you do, you can’t seem to get on the inside of a group. That may not be because you’ve done something wrong. It may just mean that these kids aren’t the right friends for you. If that’s the case, you may want to cut your losses and consider getting to know some friends that will be more interested in having you in their group. It may be a harsh reality to face initially, but by moving on to find better friends, you’ll lead a much more fulfilling social life in the long run.