“Hey buddy, come and look at your class list!” I said excitedly, remembering what it was like to learn who the teacher would be and what friends I would be in class with all year. I remember I couldn’t WAIT to go back school.
My son came bounding over to the computer and read the names on the school list then his expression dropped from excited to expressionless and he quickly walked out of the room. “Hey! What’s wrong!” I yelled after him, a little irritated at his lack of joy.
He turned around, eyes filled with tears and said, “None of my friends are in my class!”
“What do you mean? You’ll make tons of new friends!” I tried to bring the mood back up in the room. Then, he said the words that makes all mothers want to weep and murder all at the same time. “No I won’t! I didn’t make any friends last year and I was lonely.”
Let those words sink in for a second. “I was lonely.”
With any of my other kids I would write this off as them being dramatic, but not with this child. This child actually wasn’t exaggerating at all. He only has three friends…only three. We didn’t know he didn’t have friends until I sat at a parent teacher meeting near the end of last school year and the teacher mentioned that he sat alone at lunch. I remember staring at her blankly not understanding what she was saying or maybe she thought I was some other child’s mother.
Nope. It was my child. So, I asked him what all of that was about and he very nonchalantly said, “No one wants to sit with me at lunch or play with me at recess because they think I’m weird.” I didn’t know what to say because that lump started to form in my throat, and I just wanted to rock him as if he was a baby again hoping the pain of rejection would quickly melt away. But it didn’t. He spent the rest of his school year alone.
We were all hoping that this year would be different. This year he would have at least one friend in his class, but that wasn’t the case. Everything in me wanted to point the finger at the parents of his classmates and ask them why they haven’t taught their kids to be inclusive. I wanted to go up to the school and force them to change it. I wanted to rant on Facebook about how unfair life is.
But that’s the thing, life isn’t fair. It never has been, and it never will be. I was never raised in a bubble, protected from the big bad world. I have seen the worst in people and been hurt intentionally by people I thought I could trust. I have been left out, rejected, made fun of, falsely accused, and abandoned. That old adage, “What doesn’t kill you will only make you stronger” is so so true.
This presents me with the unique opportunity to teach my son that another person’s opinion doesn’t define who he is. I get to teach him to try again. I get to teach him that the world may be a rough place, but his home is the place where he is celebrated. I get to teach him empathy. I get to teach him that he is different and that is ok. I get to teach him how to step outside of his comfort zone. I get to teach him resilience.
I think we have all felt the sting of rejection. We weren’t invited, we were overlooked, we were forgotten, maybe even abandoned, in our greatest time of need. But I want to remind YOU: It doesn’t mean you are not valuable. In those moments of rejection, we have a choice to get back up or become broken. I don’t know about you, but I have a family that needs me to get back up. I have a future that requires me to get back up. I can’t allow my value to be determined by those around me. If I did, I would feel worth a million dollars one day and $.05 the next and quite frankly, ain’t nobody got time for that.
Maybe you feel isolated and lonely in this season of your life. Maybe you wish someone would invite you to a play date or even coffee. Maybe you wait for someone to notice or call you. Maybe you sit at the park and hope someone will start a conversation with you because you are an introvert and get socially awkward (like me).
I want to challenge you to be the friend to someone else that you wish you had. We can’t just sit by and wait for the world to come to us; we need to go and be the person that invites, notices, calls, starts the conversation. I bet the other moms feel the same way you do, and we are all “waiting” for someone to come to us, but in all of this waiting we just feel more disconnected and isolated.
Will some people decline your invitation? Yes. But that’s their loss. Don’t stop trying.
You are valuable. You have something other people need. You are the friend other people have been wishing and praying for. If you fall into the category of feeling lonely, isolated, or rejected it’s time to shake the dust off, get back up and try again.
There is a lost and lonely world out there that needs you to be the kickass friend you are wired to be.