When I was growing up, we were taught some basic manners when it came to friends.
Always say your pleases and thank yous. Clean up the mess you make before moving onto another one and never leave someone’s house without putting everything away. Politely accept the food offered to you at meal time even if it’s not something you want to eat.
And never discuss your plans with someone in front of another person who isn’t invited. It’s rude and makes the person not invited feel left out.
That last rule was a big one for us because my family was very conscientious about other people’s feelings.
I can understand why from first hand experience.
I’ve had plans made in front of me or brought up while I was in conversation with someone that didn’t include me and it hurt. Hell, I’ve even been apart of the planning process for an event and not invited. It’s no fun to feel left out.
Recently, this issue has come up in the work place. A team was being created and I wasn’t invited to join. I overheard small rumbling of it down the hallway and in passing. I put two and two together that a bowling team was being created and they needed a woman player. At least one.
Well I’m a woman, I thought. And I like to bowl.
But I never got an invite and the topic was never even brought up directly to me. Instead people started talking about it in front of me like I knew what was going on, like I had been apart of it somehow.
To add salt to the social wound from the lack of invite, other women, non-employees, were being added as alternates.
Not only was I not invited but the plans for said team were being discussed in front of me AND people not directly associated with the company were being added to a list of others to play in case of a member missing a game or two.
It got me thinking about my place at work and how I never really feel like I’m worth much. Yes, it’s important for my company that I do my job because no one else wants to do it. But I’m just a cog piece in this machine and that’s it. I don’t get invites to lunch or happy hour. I don’t hang out with any of the officemates outside of the work week and now I’m not being invited to be on a team created with everyone else included.
That, of course, snowballed into me feeling less than and completely demoralized. I felt useless and unwanted. I could be invisible at work and no one would care as long as the credit checks were complete and the jobs were processed.
I got so worked up that tears, hot and rushing, pushed at my eyes as I listened to my coworkers talking about paying dues and buying bowling balls. I wanted so badly to say something but I knew that anything I said would be tinged with hurt and would come out wrong. I asked myself if I were asked to play, would I even want to? Or would I say “NO and fuck you too!”? I am angry and hurt and taking things so personally so I decided to not speak up. Not that my voice would have worked anyway…
So I plugged my ears with my headphones and headed out on a walk.
I walk every day. I take part of my lunch hour and I walk a little over a mile to clear my mind and get out of the office. I notice my afternoons are more manageable and I’m less irritable if I spend some time outside. The fresh air and the bright sunlight cheer me up a bit.
Today, like every other day this week, I plugged in my headphones, turned on a podcast, then took off on a brisk walk around the block. But I was still fuming over the situation of this bowling team and before I knew it I was crossing the street past my usual turning point. I just kept walking.
I needed more space. I needed more time. And I didn’t want to go back. I wanted to just walk home. To keep my feet moving me further and further away from that place, those people.
A half mile turned into a mile, then another half and soon I wasn’t fuming. I wasn’t even thinking about it anymore. I was thinking about comic books and drawing and something I’m reading at home and how I’ll do my makeup and hair for our night out tonight. I was thinking about lots of things.
I was thinking about everything BUT the bowling team. And I realized around 1.6 miles that I wasn’t upset anymore. Instead I was working hard to move my legs and was thinking about a lot of other things. And I arrived in a calmer mood.
Does it still bother me? Yes because I still consider it rude, like bringing along a friend to a party or dinner you have been invited to without checking with the host first. I can work past it now and not allow it to bother me any more today.