EDITED TO ADD: This post was originally titled “The Scariest ‘C’ Word of All,” which was supposed to be a tongue-in-cheek reference to a four-letter “C” word that shall not be typed here. But of course, as my friend Stacy reminded me…There’s another “C” word that affects us all and is much more serious than a clique.
She’s right. Cancer is the scariest. I’ve never had to deal with the diagnosis myself, but I’ve lost family members, friends and have watched others survive cancer and bravely thrive in the aftermath. It’s NEVER far from my mind. Cliques and other “C” words pale in comparison.
The post title was careless, for sure, and I wish I’d taken a step back instead of hitting publish before the proverbial ink was dry on the post (that’s what happens when you let emotions take over). But still…I hope you appreciate the spirit in which the following post was meant.
I deleted the original tweet seen above only because I didn’t want it retweeted with the old title.
Is your mind in the gutter? Don’t worry…the “C” word that concerns me the most is totally safe for work.
I just don’t think it’s safe for real life.
I’m talking about cliques.
I’ve been dancing around exclusive groups my entire life — at school, camp, college, jobs, blogging and more. And that’s OK. I have always thought of myself as kind of a peripheral friend…someone who isn’t OUTSIDE but also isn’t INSIDE, you know? Someone who knows some of the inside jokes but not all; a person who is always just a little afraid to speak her mind lest it get her kicked out.
Perhaps it’s because I’ve moved around so much in my life. We traveled to different cities when I was a kid, so I found myself in a lot of classrooms as “the new kid.” For the most part, it’s been a blessing.
I’m never afraid to walk into a room of people with a smile on my face and a hand outstretched. I don’t shy away from new opportunities just because I don’t know anyone else who’s taking part and I’ve gotten to know an incredibly diverse cross-section of people.
But there have definitely been times when I’ve thought…
…is there something about me that’s just not cool enough for the cool kids?
I know how much it SUCKS to not feel included. So I feel a certain responsibility to not be a part of the problem.
That’s why I try my very best to never form a circle when talking to others — I want people to know that I’m approachable, and they don’t have to be afraid to say hello. That’s why when I go to a networking session, I try really hard to not spend too much time with people I already know and instead try to go up to the most timid-looking person there.
That’s why at blogging conferences and other events, I get so disappointed when the so-called popular bloggers who room together and eat together and run together and — whether they mean to or not — shut so many others out.
Am I saying that it’s not OK to have a small, exclusive group of friends? To spend more time with some than others? To share information with certain people and not others? Absolutely not. I have poured my heart out to blogging friends and shared details of my life that will never go on the blog. But that happens behind closed doors…on email conversations…in private phone conversations…over lunch.
Not where others can see it and feel like they’re being shut out of just one more thing.
(The flip side is that if you’re “the new kid,” you have to put yourself out there! Say hi to people, ask to take pictures with them, share your business card, ask to join their running group…you attract what you open yourself up to, so if you want to be approached, make sure you’re approachable.)