Have you ever gotten wind of an event to which you weren’t invited?
Was there a group chat online, and no one told you about it?
Do colleagues and supervisors seem to have a secret language you are not a part of?
It sounds like elementary school over again, but introvert exclusion can happen from youth to adulthood.
And before you say, “Who cares?” There is a cadre of introverts who may not enjoy large-scale sociability, but they are also not anti-social and enjoy invitations now and then.
In her article, The Quiet Bullying: Group Chat Exclusion, Wall Street Journal writer Julie Jargon discussed introversion exclusion.
Jargon highlighted 16-year-old Joseph Olkha, who discovered that he had been excluded from a weekend of playing paintball by friends and not seeing upcoming parties posted in his social media feeds.
After questioning his self-worth, Olkha embraced his uniqueness and resolved that he was a nerd and proud of it.
There have been occasions at work when I was out of the loop about corporate activities. I befriended an extrovert, and he would recount the tales of these events.
I didn’t miss being there, but it would have been nice to have been asked to attend.
Not being invited to social events can be a form of rejection.
Suffice it to say that these incidents are not new and are becoming more frequent as people create “Members Only” groups.
The campaign for diversity and inclusion has fallen on deaf ears in many social circles.
This rewriting of the social contract harkens back to the 2020 pandemic when individuals began seeing the gaps in their lives and the social unrest and economic upheaval that followed.
Suddenly, people’s motives were questioned, and civility fell by the wayside. Collectively, we no longer needed to be cordial or politically correct because millions of people were dying globally, which changed everything.
A Pew Research Center reported that the single category of adverse outcomes by respondents from the pandemic showed that 41% missed family and friends and worried about losing touch with people they used to see in person. They also expressed feelings of isolation and strained relationships.
I can identify with these sentiments. There are some friends I have not seen or spoken with in two years.
And surprisingly, I don’t miss them.
As an introvert, the pandemic allowed me to lean into my isolation and solitude.
I purged my Facebook friends from over 800 to 27. They were unfriended if they did not add to my long-term goals and aspirations.
And while some studies suggest that introverts fared better during the lockdowns, the impact led them to create exclusive groups themselves.
Although introverts enjoy isolation and solitude, they don’t want to be consciously excluded, mainly when they are younger.
Traditionally, youths are more sociable as they maneuver through the minefields of self-discovery.
Often, it isn’t until they have advanced in age that they become self-aware and self-reliant.
So, although my Facebook purge was cathartic, it could have been catastrophic for someone half my age who was excluded.
While attempts are still being made to adjust to a new normal, we seemingly have been altered irreparably.
Psychologists have reported that forming a new habit takes 21-30 days.
By all accounts, the pandemic is still looming after two years, and we have new ways of doing things.
Based on the posts on Facebook by some extroverted friends, they have resumed international travel, large concerts, and sporting events.
They are doing everything they can to regain their sociability and have chosen who will participate with them.
What are introverts to do since many are still in the pandemic mode because it feels so natural?
Introverts become existentialists
The philosophy behind existentialism suggests that life has no meaning other than what we give it.
Nothing is predetermined, and life becomes a portrait of what we paint.
If we leave the canvas blank, that is the creative result of our efforts.
Existentialism bodes well with the intellectual journey of introverts because it places the responsibility of clarity and contentment squarely on their shoulders.
Consequently, enlightened introverts don’t reflect long on why they have been excluded from certain social circles.
A quick mental check-in tells them that they have not violated any etiquette rules and thus cannot be accountable for the decisions of others.
Because their solitude brings comfort, they can either appreciate their individuality or expand their social circle with like-minded individuals.
So, if introverts are excluded from social events, they must embrace that the hosts are not their kind of people and do not believe they would fit in.
And if introverts declined to attend past events, they can’t be upset when a pattern has been set, and people stop asking.
Mature and self-possessed introverts can live with this reality.
After all, they can’t have it both ways. Expect invitations only to turn them down.
What can introverts do when they are excluded from social events?
Many social ills can be cured with advanced social skills.
First, introverts must determine what their ideal life looks like and what social skills are required to manifest it.
My introverted friend Troy relayed that as a teenager, he realized that he was not the type of guy girls naturally gravitated towards. By his admission, he lacked animal magnetism. It was a cat-and-mouse game of if she liked him, he didn’t like her, and if he liked her, she didn’t like him.
So, Troy played the numbers game, suggesting he didn’t need to attract every girl he approached. He only needed to entice a few and chose from this pool with whom he had the best connection.
Throughout decades of dating, before he married, Troy experienced various women that shaped his worldview and helped him determine who best suited him.
The takeaway is that he developed the necessary skills to enjoy his desired social life.
He didn’t wait for women to approach him. He approached them.
As existentialists, introverts must proactively design the life they desire by analyzing the problem and creating specific social skills as a cure.
Like Troy, you should create small social circles of like-minded people that stave off exclusion because you set the stage for inclusion.
People have the right to connect and commune with whomever they desire.
Instead of playing an outsider’s game, create the dynamics by which you are an insider calling your own shots.
When you create your own opportunities, you feel less disempowered and more in control of your direction.
You turn the tables by being so busy within your inner circle that others don’t register on your radar.
Ultimately, exclusion is a mental game. The less you desire to be a part of other people’s reality, the better you feel about your own.
Jargon, J. (2022, Nov. 21). The quiet bullying: Group-chat exclusion. The Wall Street Journal, p. A11.
Van Kessel, P., Baronavski, C., Scheller, A., and Smith, A. (2021, March 5). In their own words, Americans describe the struggles and silver linings of the COVID-19 pandemic. Pew Research Center. Retrieved from: https://pewrsr.ch/3V7nnrV.