One day, when my mom picked me and my two siblings up from school, my little sister entered the car and instantly began to cry. My mom turned around to face her and asked, “What’s wrong, honey?” My sister then proceeded to tell us that two of her classmates said that she cannot be friends with them because she did not wear a belt to school that day…
Now, I may just be naive to the mind of 6 year olds, but that seemed to be a drastic credential to being a part of a friend group.
Take a moment and think…have you ever made your friend group exclusive? Have you ever denied someone friendship because they did not look, talk, or act a certain way? You may not have insisted that someone wear a belt in order to meet your friendship standards, but maybe they needed to have a certain amount of social media followers; maybe they needed to own a certain brand of clothes; maybe they needed to be from a certain neighborhood.
Be honest with yourself as you reflect on this, because, even though it may be hard to accept, you may be guilty of this too.
Even if exclusion is part of your past, it does not mean it has to take place in your present or future. As humans, we are more drawn to people who are like us, but we can also learn a great deal from people who are not like us. Explore this notion this school year as you connect and reconnect with friends. We may not be sure if school will be in person or online, but whether you are connecting with people face-to-face or through virtual means, make an effort to include others!