By Sarah Garrett, Crosswalk.com
Mike walked into the office on Monday morning to waves and indistinct chatter among his colleagues. As he settled at his desk, he could clearly overhear some of his co-workers’ conversations.
“Man, we had a great time Friday night! Thanks for the invite, Steve.”
“No worries, it’s so hectic here sometimes, I thought we could all use a night to relax and enjoy ourselves.”
Mike smirked and shrugged his shoulders to himself. He quickly thought, “Yep. ‘We all.’ As in everyone except me.” Mike was just as involved with people in the office but never seemed to be invited to after-work events. He thought it was odd, but he just moved on and started his work for the week.
Susan, who sits a few desks away from Mike, heard the conversation while secretly scrolling through her Instagram feed. She stopped when she saw a picture of women from her Sunday School class with their kids all out at the park. Susan did not have children, but she liked the women in her class and felt a pang of resentment that she was not at least invited. She clicked her phone off and went back to work.
Have you ever felt like Mike or Susan?
It is likely that we all have been left out or felt lonely at multiple points in our lives. If you are reading this and you think that your feelings of loneliness are not temporary, or that you are constantly left out, then this post is for you. Below, we sill discuss six sneaky reasons you may feel lonely or disliked:
1. You've bought into the social media deception.
Sometimes it is hard to remember that social media is a deceptive “highlight reel.” People generally tend to show the good moments and if you do not have many “moments” to share, it can make you think that everyone has a more fulfilled life than you do.
However, you must remember that this is simply not the case. The person in the picture you see may feel just as lonely as you, even though they are constantly surrounded by people.
I remember a girl I went to college with was always the life of the party, and I later discovered she was on medicine for depression and anxiety. However, her outward way and social media never showed that she struggled with anything.
It is important to remember there is always a different life than the one shown on Instagram and Facebook. Do not be deceived by the lives people present on social media.
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2. You are in a different stage of life than your friends.
This is the case with Susan in the opening anecdote. She does not have children and everyone else in her class does. The people in her class likely did not leave Susan out because they do not like her; they probably assumed that someone without kids would not want to spend a free afternoon with a slew of young children.
This can also happen if you are single and the majority of people you know are married. If a group of married couples get together, it is likely you were not invited because they did not want you to feel like the proverbial “third wheel.” Also, if marriage is something you desire, they may not want to “throw in your face” that you are single.
Life stage changes always bring about change in group dynamics. Try not to take it personally.
If you really do want to attend a gathering with friends in a different stage, be sure to tell your friend that you would like to be invited.
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3. You have a different set of convictions than those around you.
When I started working at my first “big girl job,” four or five of my female co-workers got together after work a few times a month. They would make plans in the break room, while I was sitting there, and I was never invited.
I must admit that it stung to be excluded, but I knew why: because I do not drink alcohol.
Sometimes, when you have a different conviction than those around you, they do not invite you. It could be because they think you might judge them or maybe they don’t want you to be tempted, or any number of other reasons.
Since I knew why I was being excluded, it did not bother me as much. Take a few minutes to think and determine if some of your convictions could be the reason you are being left out.
As Christians, we may be left out of many things because of our convictions, and that is OK.
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4. You dislike small talk.
You may be a problem-solver or a deep thinker. You thrive best with deep conversation and discussion on how to fix life’s issues.
Many people, especially in social settings, are not looking for this type of discussion. Social situations usually call for conversations about other people or small talk about each other’s lives. For someone who wants deeper conversation, this type of dialogue can be irksome.
In some cases, people may sense that you generally do not participate in the conversation or seem disinterested, so they decide not to invite you again. Even though you may not particularly enjoy the conversation, it is good to add where you can.
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5. You unintentionally isolate yourself.
Have you ever been in a group of people in a social situation and someone, or multiple people, are always on their phone? Have you ever been this person?
Even though some may not realize it, constantly being on a phone shows that whoever or whatever is on your phone is more important than the people around you. It comes across that you would rather be socializing with people online instead of the people you are with in person. Eventually, the “phone person” will likely stop being invited and left to their cyber friends.
There are many other ways this can happen as well. If you have a physically or mentally demanding job, the last thing on your mind might be hanging out in a group of people, so you consistently turn down any invitations. Eventually, the people may stop asking because they think you prefer being alone.
One time, I realized I was unintentionally isolating myself. I was single when I first started teaching high school and would go to the school-sponsored sporting events and sit by myself. I always noticed how the teachers sat together, and I wanted to feel a part but continued to sit alone. Finally, I realized that I was going to have to make some effort because they probably assumed that I wanted to sit alone.
The next game, I sat with the teachers and was welcomed in and continued to sit with them at future events. It took me a bit to realize I was unintentionally isolating myself.
Is this something you could be doing? Do you always wait for someone else to do the inviting? Maybe it is time to step a little out of your comfort zone and ask if you can join them.
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6. Satan wants you to feel alone because you're easier to attack that way.
I believe that Satan thrives in our loneliness if we allow him too. When we are alone with our thoughts, it is a perfect avenue for Satan to amplify our negative thoughts and distort truth. The lonelier we feel, the less likely we become to seek relationships which can spiral us further down into despair.
When we feel lonely and like “no one likes us,” it’s easier for Satan to whisper, “You’re right, you’re annoying, not funny, everyone wishes you weren’t around.” We must stay vigilant and realize these thoughts are not of God.
Speaking of God, can you imagine how lonely Jesus must have felt at times? Especially closer to his death? He was deserted by all of his disciples, betrayed by one closest to him. He completely understands how you feel.
Loneliness is something that happens to all of us. The important thing to remember is that it is a normal feeling.
I hope this post was able to give you some insight in to why you may think that no one likes you. If you truly think you do not have a friend, then pray for one. Also, make sure you are doing your part to garner a friendship; it doesn’t come without work.
Also, instead of dwelling on the feeling of loneliness, try taking the advice from Philippians 4:8 (NIV), “Finally, brothers and sisters, whatever is true, whatever is noble, whatever is right, whatever is pure, whatever is lovely, whatever is admirable—if anything is excellent or praiseworthy—think about such things.”
Staying positive will help keep the feelings of loneliness from taking over your mind.
Sarah Garrett is a passionate educator and the founder of Transformed4More.com. She has a calling on her life to share God’s truth with teenagers to help them lived transformed lives for Jesus Christ. She is the author of So, You Think You’re Ready to Date? a 40-day devotional for teenage girls to learn how to set a Biblical foundation for romantic relationships.
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