Not Invited

Yesterday there was an awkward moment at work during our staff lunch when one teacher (let’s call her A) mentioned to another teacher (we’ll call her S) that she had found a dress for S’s wedding, at which point the other three teachers we were sitting with all got very quiet while glancing shiftily back and forth, making it painfully obvious that I was the only one of the six of us that wasn’t invited.

This is the fourth wedding of a colleague that I haven’t been invited to when a significant number of other staff members were.

I get it. I’m not very good friends with many people on my staff. I’m never surprised that I’m not invited, I guess it’s just hard to realize that everyone else is.

And no, obviously EVERYONE else is not invited. The majority of the staff is not. But the people who get married, and those they invite, are always in the group of people I would  consider friends at work–the people I sit with at staff meetings, chat with at lunch and in the halls, hang out with at the holiday party. I’m just never a good enough friend to make the cut, and everyone else in the group is.

I’ve not made the cut quite a few times with college friends as well. Again, I never question that I’m not invited, it’s just the sting of realizing that everyone else is.

I think one of the reasons this hurts so much when it happens at work is it’s a reminder of a very painful event that took place early in my career when I found out, via FB, that quite literally the entire staff had been invited to a rafting trip, and most of them had actually gone on it, and I had not been invited. I remember at the time thinking, well maybe they just forgot about me, which isn’t a particularly comforting thought because clearly you are no one’s good friend if not one person remembered to mention it to you. Later I found out I was purposefully not included because the two organizers didn’t particularly like me. I never really understood what I did to make them dislike me so much that they’d not invite me on a trip they had to know I’d find out about later.

That happened eight or nine years ago. It still hurts to think about it.

And every time there is a wedding that I’m not invited to, that I hear everyone talking about before and after, I’m reminded of that rafting trip when I was purposefully excluded.

It’s like middle school all over again. I guess I’ll never really fit in.

15 Comments

  1. This sucks. How awful that the organizers of the rafting trip couldn’t be big enough people to do the right thing and invite you! My coworkers are all much closer to each other than to me, but they’re so different than me. They’re not the kind of people I would choose to be friends with. So it doesn’t bother me too much. Still, it’s nice to have positive working relationships and be friendly at least.

    1. I will admit that I’m not super interested in being friends with a lot of the people on my staff, especially those who are much older than me. If they were all going to an event together and I wasn’t invited I wouldn’t think twice about it. But there is a younger group that is around my age, we’ve all been working together for many years (more than 10) and we’ve spent a lot of time together. That is the group that has events I’m not included in, and I seem to be the only one who isn’t included. I guess I just don’t make the cut for whatever reason.

  2. My motto is “I go to work to work not to make friends!” I am probably the bitchy one they all chat about in the hallways and lunch rooms since I don’t invite anyone to anything, do not attend anything that is not work related and do not talk to anyone about my personal life. I am a great co-worker (everyone asks advice, to help with projects, to work with me), great employee (extraordinary performance evaluations, quick work up the proverbial ladder) and do my job and go home. I had issues at a previous job that taught me this lesson and I have never forgotten it. It is one that has worked well for me. So when co workers are talking about a night out, some trip/adventure togetherness activity it literally does not affect me at all.

    1. It’s great you’ve found a system that works for you. I don’t think I personally would be very happy without any work relationships, but I’m glad it works for you.

  3. There are a few ways to look at this situation. The first is B’s approach, which works very well for some. But another approach is recognizing this is another element for why you want to look for new employment. I just started a new position, but already my connection with my coworkers is world’s better. It’s not to say that we’ll be actively hanging out after work, but also knowing that I feel included in the team instead of being an outsider has helped my moral. So as you are preparing your resume and starting the job search, this idea of finding a group you can connect with can help motivate.

    1. Yeah. I was thinking of it as a motivator. It also helps to not feel tied to my current job by my colleagues, who I really do like and want to be around. It helps to remember that the feeling is not necessarily mutual.

  4. That sounds very painful. I’m sorry.

    Personally I don’t believe in excluding one or 2 people. If I can’t afford to invite the whole unit (which is how you’ve described this group of younger colleagues you hang with) then I either exclude all of them or pick only one.

    I’m sorry this happened to you now and in the past. And I hope you’ll be happier in a future job and that it’ll have a few people in it with similar morals as you have. This one is their bad not yours.

  5. You and An** are so on the same page/topic today.
    “In these times the importance of being part of a community is emphasized. Anything that feels like exclusion and/or not being a full member of a group is an additional weight on a feeling of uncertainty. Wish I had advice but I don’t.”
    Applies to all of us who have (or will) been in this place. Good luck on the job search.

  6. Haha, dude we wrote the same post on the same day, though I’ve been trying to get this out for months now (and the incidences keep stacking up). Its a hard place to be in. Its not related to work, so I can’t really take B’s advice. For a while I was trying to focus on work & my nuclear family, but I definitely want more out of life, including local friendships.

  7. Ugh, work like is so frustrating. I do agree with, “B”, I go to work to work, not make friends. Great co-worker, horrible friend. I gotta be honest with you, I see these twerps more than my family, so I really don’t want to hang out with them outside of work. I know, bad attitude.
    However, use this as your motivator to find a right fit of employment for you.
    One more thing – those ladies sound awful. I’m sorry you have to put up with stuff like that.

  8. Yep. I have found that I need to look for an open community rather than assuming all communities will be open to new members. Example: my neighbors across the street have girls the same ages as ours & similar interests to ours. Her entire family is from town so she has no need for new people or friends. If we invite ourselves over or even hint we want an invite, they will include us but it doesn’t dawn on them that it’s lonely in a new place to have no local friends. Our faith community has been very open to including us and inviting us to non-faith community things and to do friend social things sometimes too. I really hate that “everyone got invited but me” thing and I’m still sometimes mad that my extended family forgot to invite us to the big reunion last summer. I suppose the best solution is for me to do more inviting so folks remember I like being invited/around. I love the climate change with my new job. It lifted half the weight off my shoulders to know that work could be fun and collaborative and not a middle school style power struggle with infinite hidden agendas. I had no idea how heavy the unpleasant workplace was until it was gone.

  9. This angers me for you. I know you, and I can’t imagine why anyone would want to exclude you. You would be #1 on my invite list! 😁

    I sometimes feel excluded. I used to get upset if I was excluded from things, but I’ve brought it on myself being so introverted. Brian introduced 5 different, unknown to each other, groups years ago, before he met me. After we all got married (1 in May and 3 in June 2007) they stopped inviting us to things. He was so upset about it. Back then, I was too because he’d been the one who created the big group in the first place. It really got under our skin. He finally asked one of the guys why they excluded us. “The group felt that you guys had much more than the rest of us and it made us feel weird.”. Yes, that was the reason! The group that gets new cars every 2-3 years, builds houses, joins this club and that club, and must SHOW their worth were uncomfortable with us (still driving our cars we bought used in 2010, bought an existing house, aren’t country club members). It was so ridiculous that our exclusion from the group, ‘because we had so much more than them,’ stopped bothering Brian! All that to say…. WE ARE ALL STILL IN JUNIOR HIGH EVERY DAY IF WE WANT TO BELIEVE IT OR NOT!

    We have vowed to find new friends. Our problem is that we really like each other a lot and I’m so introverted (I think he is too). I would rather hang out with Brian any night than do a girls night or couples outing. There was ONE couple who we loved hanging out with but then they moved and she passed away. There is no other couple that feels like home to us like they did, so we’re comfortable with it.

    I’m sorry that your coworkers are making you feel like this. Because of how we felt in 2008 and onward because of that big group of friends, I know that it hurts. I know it’s frustrating. There is no easy answer.

  10. Ugh. This is so hard. And it sucks that we still have to deal with this stuff as “grown ups.” When I was younger, I had this naive idea that these types of issues would be less of a problem in the future.

    I like connecting with people at work, so I wouldn’t feel comfortable not building any relationships. Also, in my industry, I find it easier to work with people and collaborate when we have a bit of a personal relationship.

    That being said, I also struggle with the being left out issue. I think it’s because I’m not always an “easy” person in friendships. I like talking about “real” things (current events, politics, social issues, work, whatever) and am sometimes not as “light” as I could be. I also have trouble sometimes transitioning from small talk in the office (asking about kids, weekend plans), to deeper friendships.

    I’ve taken efforts to work on these things in recent years and I really do think it’s gotten better. Of course, this must be balanced by staying true to one’s self.

    I think it’s also worth acknowledging– but tough– that not everyone is going to “click” as a real friend (I know this isn’t directly the issue with the work group, but maybe related). There was a group of wives of my husband’s friends that I tried for YEARS to crack and it just ended up hurting my feelings and making me feel bad about myself. I’ve landed at a place where I see them a few times a year (holiday party, summer bbq), and I let everything else go. They hang out together much more frequently, but I forced myself to stop caring and (for the most part), I really don’t anymore. Once I stopped putting in the effort that wasn’t returned, it was easier. Now I am able to actually enjoy seeing them as sometimes-friends instead of please-be-my-good friend.

    Just some random thoughts, not sure if any of that is helpful 🙂

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