Illustration by Marietta Kosma

As the years go on, we change. Friends who used to be close can become distant, as we all have busy schedules. It is human nature to not like being ignored or left out. Everyone has the need to belong somewhere, to be part of a group, to feel accepted.

Some years ago, my friends would go to places all the time and do things without me, or without even considering inviting me. They would go to my favourite restaurant for lunch, they would drink coffee at my favourite coffee shop, or go clubbing without mentioning anything to me. I used to be terribly upset about it. I would get a headache, my stomach would sink, and I wouldn’t want to eat for days. I felt this way because I thought I was missing out on great memories with them. I truly believed that everyone was having fun while I was feeling miserable about myself. I think what bothered me most was that I felt as if my friends did not want me there because they had secrets from me.

It is easy to let our insecurities get the better of us. My thought pattern was not helpful, as it created an emotional tension which only increased my anxiety. This then made it even harder to consider the reasonable explanations my friends gave about why they did not invite me.

It was only after many years that I realized I shouldn’t have been offended, and that my friends were actually doing me a favour. I honestly had to ask myself whether I wanted to associate myself with a group like that. What I wish I told myself when I was younger is that in life we sometimes never get the apology or explanation we long for. There may be many reasons why we might be left out, and we might learn about them. If we do, we can at least put things into perspective and act accordingly. But if not, it is still fine. At the end of the day, why would you want to be in a gathering where you aren’t welcome? Why guilt your friends into inviting you next time? It’s not worth it.

I wish that my younger self was aware that you are not entitled to anyone’s company. You are not entitled to anything, really: not attention, not an invitation, not an explanation. After years of worrying about what others think about me, I felt liberated once I realized that I shouldn’t really care. I felt a weight lifted by not worrying about what other people think about me. Once I accepted the fact that I wasn’t invited, and understood that it happens to everyone at some point in their lives, it became easier for me to move on from the situation. Years later, I may have fewer friends, but I am happier with my life, and fully accept myself for who I am. You don’t need to be perfect to be loved. There is no such thing as “perfect”. Accepting that rejection is not as personal as it feels, that it does not have to do with one’s inherent worth, is what will render us better equipped to deal with not being invited. Trust me, I promise it gets better.