Image by Amélie Fontaine
One of the reasons WisTo’s first theme motto is “Welcome” is because, in one way or the other, we all want to be accepted. Human beings, including my fellow teenagers that aren’t satisfied until their door is shut with a satisfying *click*, are all-in-all social creatures. Why else would we form friendship groups; yearn for followers on our Social Media accounts and sound off about soul mates in every song, film and novel possible?
Few feelings, then, suck more than feeling ignored; neglected and excluded. From childhood to adolescence to an ever-pending adulthood; I’m pretty certain that being left out is definitely one the worst feelings in the world. Whether being left out of break-time games, being picked last for sports’ teams or being deemed unpopular, we’ve all had that nagging feeling that nobody gives a fiddlestick about us being around, and even that we’re one massive nuisance that everyone wants to scream Good riddance! at whenever we leave the room.
In our day and age, excluding and ignoring people is made out to be the common denominator amongst the cool, popular teenage girls. These alpha females pop up in every coming-of-age high school scenario film, such as classics like Mean Girls; Clueless and Heathers. The girl in charge is protective of her pack and, in return for her protective and immensely critical eye over them, they become icy to anyone who threatens their tight-knit friendship.
You could only imagine, then, the feeling of fear; dread and anxiety I had when I joined my second secondary school. Although I was joining in Year 7 (the first year of secondary school), it was drawing to the end of the school year and I was pretty certain everyone had drawn securely into their decided friendship units. At first sight, I was totally right* – my tutor room was divided very clearly into cliques: We had the geeks; the sporty guys, the kinda shy/weird dudes and, of course, the popular girls (who were the prettiest, which is why I knew). Since the moment I walked into that room of baby-faced strangers and their curious, gawking eyes, I’ve been conscious to how people feel when they’re the newbie in the situation and empathise with them.
What many people don’t realise is that, often, even if we don’t intend to make someone think certain thoughts, one careless move can be interpreted as a world of implied messages from us to them. Stuff like “we don’t like you” when no-one replies to what they just said (when you actually didn’t hear them say a word); “you’re not one of us” when you don’t open up your conversational circle (or don’t see them there) and “there’s people more important than you” when you go on your phone when they’re talking (when you just thought you felt it buzz) are all stuff that can make other people feel unimportant. Admit it! If any of the aforementioned situations happened to you, you’d feel pretty similar.
Well, as the Golden Rule goes: Do to Others as You Want to Be Done to You, and if you’ve decided that feeling unincluded is crappy as heck then it may be time you started to make others feel welcomed. There are so many ways that we can be kind to others and make them feel welcome. Whether the person in question is new to the school; they’re trying to join a conversation or simply look a bit alienated, letting them think “actually, I’m an okay person!” just by recognising their existence is great for your track record on the directory called Karma.
There’s tons of way you can send positive vibes of “yo, you look like you’re new but as I’m pretty dapper dude I’m gonna be nice to you!” to a stranger:
Start by smiling and saying hey.
If you’ve never met them before, introduce yourself! Let them feel noticed by recognising that they’ve entered the room and make it so that they can feel more at ease.
Introduce them to people that they may not know.
If you’re with people you know but they don’t, going through the whole “[New Kid’s name], this is [Person I Know’s name], and [Person I Know’s name], this is my friend [New Kid’s name]” conversation can ease out any awkwardness hanging in the air. It also can churn a cool conversation that includes everyone you’re hanging out with, including [New Kid’s name].
Start a conversation with them.
Sometimes, when someone is new or uncertain of themselves, they can act shy and curl up into themselves. Try not to let that happen! Sure, they might not want to interact and that’s cool too, but even if they’re wearing a face of frustration and annoyance you deserve to know for sure whether their quietness is purposeful or a defence mechanism. There’s a pretty thick line between “the ease of all these strangers around each other scares the heck out of me” and “eff off who are you ew”. If it’s the former, ask them a question, encourage them to answer and listen attentively when they do. If you keep doing this, they’ll get more confident and woo! everyone’s chatting like chums.
Don’t appear like a snarkly lil’ shit.
Okay, there’s a lot of vitriol to this one, but here goes: Nothing quite compares to someone making plans right in front of you but making it pretty obvious they don’t want to include you. If there’s a reason you don’t want them to come, arrange plans privately or you’ll seem like you’re trying to start something that never had a foundation. If there’s space for another individual, why don’t you ask them along?
Also; patronising comments; sarcastic remarks and inside jokes that you can’t/don’t want to explain is a massive no-no.
You are now on your way to being a warm; loving and nice human being! How warm, loving and nice 🙂 ℘
* that rhymed lmaooo