Circles: Are you “In” or are you “Out”?

Circles, you know the kind, clutches of people that seem unbreakable, impenetrable, and a force to be reckoned with when provoked or a ‘stranger’ moves in? Circles are great when things aren’t going so well and numbers help in the solace, but what about the outsiders?

Are you an “in” person, do you have a group that you have been a part of for a long time? How ….honestly, do you feel about new people coming into the area?  Or are you an “outsider” person, do you feel left out, not measuring up with the “In” crowd? Are there things, activities, and collaborations that you feel that you miss out on not being a part of the “in” crowd?

My youngest daughter said a very interesting thing to me the other day, we had gone to my knight’s softball game at the nearby park and there were a couple of girls my daughter’s age that she knew. We all attend the same parish and we’ve known them for years from the Men’s Softball league, but one was in her class all year and we carpooled with and the other girl attended another school and was a grade ahead of them. Neither girl spoke to my daughters sitting right there on the bleachers. Instead, they just talked about friends they knew and since both will be attending the same school next year, they talked about classes and teachers and other kids. This younger daughter of mine didn’t sit with them, but our older one did. Later, going home, I asked her why she didn’t sit with the girls, she said without even pausing, “Mom, when a teenage girl sees another teenage girl, she immediately sees her as competition and I’m not playing.” Hm, I never thought about that before, but there is some truth to this assumption.

Thinking about this, I was frustrated about being left off the list at a meeting recently, after spending an entire school year working to make it a great one for the students, I got replaced by the “In” crowd who premeditated the meeting and all their nominations.  They literally took over at the meeting with a slight half-hearted “thanks” to me.  Feeling the burn for a few days afterwards, I came across a book of St. Francis de Sales.  In his book the “Introduction to the Devout Life” he talks about friendships.  Being careful to chose friends that are of like-mindedness and centered in things Divine and Godly, otherwise they will not remain and will not serve to grow in faith and spirituality.

“I would bid you love every one with the love of charity, but have no friendship save wiht those who can interchange virtuous love with you, since the more your friendship stands on the foundation of virtue, the more perfect will it be.  If your bond of union be the pursuit of science, it is a commendable friendship; still more if it be prudence, discretion, decision and justice.  But if you bond of intercourse be charity, devotion, and Christian perfection, then indeed will your friendship be precious; precious because it has its origin in God, because it is maintained in God, and because it will endure forever in Him.”

I think about all those that have crossed my path.  Learning something from each of them, they come and go in peaceful ebbs and flows.  Careful in how we speak, think, and act leads to a deeper respect for each other and the Lord.  Friends can either aid in this or hinder depending upon the person and their relationship with the Lord.  The Bible speaks of being evenly yoked to another, I think that this means not only to your spouse, but to friends too.  I took a course in college, Intro to Abnormal Psychology.  Besides the obvious things like identifying the problem being half the solve, I learned about the concept of “group think” where in a group many can be changed and charged to do things one would not do alone.  This is not necessarily a bad thing, but it can be.  Knowing how individual we are and the gifts we have been blessed with prior to being in a group might be the benefit of a person.  To go into a group with a strong sense of self worth could curtail any negativity that can be instilled in a person.  I’m thinking of the old adage:  If you don’t stand up for something, you’ll fall for anything.  Well, if you don’t stand up for yourself, you could be moved to do almost anything another things is good, despite your own moral and ethical makeup.  Makes a great deal of sense, doesn’t it?

My youngest, at the tender age of 14, knows about circles and has prioritized them as low on her list. At my age, I have lamented over this issue for nearly all my life as one who never made the “In” crowds. Always an artistic mentality either in the drama club, art club, or music, I have paved my own road somehow missing the mark of the “In” crowd’s standards. At some point, I’ll get it….that it’s not important to be “In” and that being “out” is really where the comfort is for me.

Glad that my youngest isn’t going to be  hung up by all these details of society, she has found herself as a unique individual with her own gifts and offerings that someday will be appreciated by a crowd of her own.  Maybe even not a crowd, but a small group of close friends that are of like-minds and spirits.

Copyright 2011 Ebeth Weidner

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