Writer Amy Weatherly has over 100,000 followers on her Facebook page for her bold yet authentic writing about life, friendship, and motherhood.
You may have seen her story on the importance of building a tribe of friends who want to collaborate and support instead of compete with each other. Now she’s expanding her advice to be more inclusive of others who may feel like they’re on the outside looking in.
She began her message with words that nearly everyone can relate to at some point, especially in the era of social media when only the most glamorous parts of people’s lives are on display:
“Sometimes I feel like I’m not quite cool enough. Sometimes I feel like I’m not quite popular enough. Sometimes I feel like I don’t fit in the same way other people do.”
And at one time or another, we’ve all felt like the odd (wo)man out. It even keeps some of us tethered to the safety of our homes instead of putting ourselves out there to make more connections:
“Sometimes I feel like there is a group who maybe doesn’t really want me there. Sometimes I wonder why I wasn’t invited. Sometimes I walk up to a circle of people and I don’t know whether to force my way in, or be awkward hanging around on the outside, just twiddling my thumbs, kicking the dirt, talking to myself, waiting until I can leave and go home to the safety of my sofa.”
A “circle of friends” is often seen as a positive force in people’s lives, but Weatherly points out that it can often make people wonder what role they play and if they’re always part of the group.
Having an exclusive set of friends might be empowering, but it also might be keeping important people out of your life.
“Circles are great if you’re on the inside. They can be fun if you’re in one, but circles can be awfully cruel if you’re left on the outskirts, looking for a way to get inside.
They can be exclusive.
They can be excluding.
They can be exhausting.
They can be cliquish.
They can be childish.
They are far, far too common.”
The idea of the circle implies that a group of friends is closed off and literally and figuratively unopen to others. While this might have been common in our school years, it’s not a healthy way to approach the world once we’re adults. As people change, they often need a new perspective.
Weatherly’s advice is to think of your friends as a U instead of a circle. This metaphor allows room for others to enter. Others who have a new way of looking at things, let you grow out of the person you once were, and allow you to see the world through someone else’s eyes – someone you might not have thought you’d be friends with at another point in your life.
“Stop building circles and build a U. Leave room for everyone. Make a way so anyone, any ‘you’ can walk up and feel like they have a place to stand.
Leave room for good people who look different than you, who run in different crowds than you, who like different things than you, who come from different places than you. Differences were never made to divide us. They were made to build us, and to teach us, to fill in the gaps where our own gifts give way and come up short.”
Of course, it’s still important to keep those friends who’ve always been there for you and those you know you can trust. The U doesn’t mean you have to give them up, only that you can expect to gain more when you’re more inclusive of others.
“Have your few trusted friends. Have your people. Keep them close. Spend time with them. Share your secrets with them. Work on building and maintaining and safe-guarding those sacred sisters.”
And as so many of us know, it’s impossible to give time to everyone you meet.
“You can’t be best friends with everyone.
But you can notice everyone. You can make room for everyone. You can be kind and generous and thoughtful and sympathetic to everyone. You can smile to everyone. You can make eye contact with everyone. You can probably even offer a simple ‘hello’ to everyone.”
While so many of us are tied to our phones (sometimes for good or necessary reasons), it’s still important to look up and acknowledge the people around you, according to Weatherly.
“When you are out with a group, when you’re at a meeting, or an event, or a Bible study. When you’re at a kid’s soccer game, or a school function, or absolutely any public setting — lift up your unsuspecting head and look for the lonely. Chat with the new. Invite the introverts who will never invite themselves. Hug the hurting. Make room for more.”
She also acknowledges the pain some people feel when they’re always on the outside, thinking that everyone else has close relationships that don’t have room for them. She encourages readers to channel any pain they may have felt in the past into action they can use to make more connections going forward.
“If you’ve ever felt that excruciating feeling of walking into a new place, of being surrounded with new faces, of being left out of group texts, of being excluded, don’t let those experiences go to waste. Turn it around and use them for something good.
Use it to recognize the hurting among you. Use it to recognize the lonely. Use it to recognize the left out. And then use it to reach out an invite, or a hand, or some kind of nice gesture.”
And Weatherly knows it’s not easy. If it were, we’d all be doing it. Instead, it requires both discomfort and work. But sometimes the hard things are the ones most worth doing.
“It’s not an easy thing to do — getting out of your comfort zone, getting over yourself enough to help someone else, getting out your saw and your hammer and your nails right there in the middle of a crowd to build a bigger table. It’s not easy. If it was easy, everyone would do it.”
Even if you think you’ve been an open person in the past, chances are not everyone has viewed you in that way. It may be worth considering those times when you’ve simply hurt someone unintentionally. Reflecting on those times might help you avoid them in the future.
“We’re all guilty. We’ve all done it at some point. We’ve all been unaware, so there is no purpose in being mad, or angry, and there definitely isn’t any purpose in using it as an excuse to call people names, or tear someone down. Chances are, nobody is being mean. Nobody is being intentional. Chances are, they simply aren’t thinking, and we’ve all been guilty of not thinking before. But that doesn’t mean it’s okay. That doesn’t mean we should keep our blinders on. That doesn’t mean we should continue constructing our closed-off circles.”
The idea behind building the U is not exclusive to Weatherly, as she freely admits at the end of her post. She originally heard it from the author and creator of Momastery Glennon Doyle.
Nonetheless, Weatherly has put her own spin on the concept, encouraging women especially to stay more open and remember that they can make the world a kinder place by simply creating space for those on the outside in their group of friends.
“Be the kind of woman you wish someone had been to you.
Make a U.
Circles were made to be broken, but U’s were made to include everyone, to keep growing bigger and better and stronger.
U’s were made for us all.”
It’s clear that Weatherly’s words touched her readers as so many reached out to thank her and speak up about the pain of feeling left out.
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Source: Love What Matters