“Will you recognize me? Call my name, or walk on by.” – Simple Minds, Don’t You Forget About Me, 1985
Nobody wants to feel excluded, whether it’s fitting in with the popular kids in school, to the dream where you’re the only person to miss the train. It’s human nature.
Part of my journey this year is the realization that I’ve always felt like the square peg – I’ve tried to fit in with groups of people with whom I had little to nothing in common. It’s been my FOMO – fear of missing out, and this can be a very demoralizing feeling.
I’ve lived in the DC area for nearly 8 years, and a lot of my friends have been friends with Jenn for many years, so they’re friends by previous association. Although I’ve tried (too hard, more often than not) to fit in, it has been very challenging at times, and it’s been easy to feel like the fifth wheel. I used to go with Jenn to a lot of her work conferences, as a lot of “our friends” go to the same conferences. In hindsight, I never would cross paths with the majority of these people, not because of how I was treated by any of them, but because we’re incredibly different. It was my fear of exclusion…there are a few people with whom I have genuine friendships, but they are Jenn’s friends first and foremost. (I still go to the warm-weather conferences in Arizona, California and Hawaii, as we make it a vacation around her conferences.)
I had a great opportunity to play music down in Deale Maryland this summer. There are some great bars down on the waterfront, and the people down there are very welcoming. As the new guy in the band who knew absolutely no one, people actually came up and started conversations, and the majority of these conversations were about the things we have in common. There were no feelings of exclusion or having to be someone or something that I’m not.
I played my CSL Metro church gig this morning. They have a part of the service where they encourage members of the congregation to stand up and share the good things they have experienced. I shared a part of my journey, and the genuine compassion was an unexpected surprise. I always feel welcome here, and I hope to get to know the folks here a lot better. One of today’s music selections was “Lovely Day” by Bill Withers…it felt incredibly appropriate!
My focus is to continue to find people with who I have more common interests, but to also treat EVERYONE with kindness…I know FOMO all too well, and I don’t want to make anyone else feel that way. #inclusion 😊❤️👍🏽