The “In” Crowd
That self-appointed exclusive group of kids called the”in-crowd” or “the popular kids” never disappear or change their mentality or tactics. They simply become expensively dressed, sophisticated and mature versions of their younger selves. Their tactics, while showing the same intent, become more elaborate and develop a veneer of finesse. They still squeal and squeak, or give each other manly pats on the back at each other’s minor achievements. If you are not part of them they ignore your substantial accomplishments. They take your favours and kindness for granted as if owed as homage from a lesser tribe or species. This is not about money, race, religion or gender. It’s none of those things and all of those things. It’s about being different and therefore removed enough from the game to be able to stand on the outside and see the game being played. The first rule of the game is that everyone has to believe that there is no game being played and deny it convincingly if challenged, even have a counter accusation ready.
They retain the ability to make you feel awkward and ugly. They seem invincible with their self-congratulatory airs, in-crowd verbal codes, body language and shared self-deception. They still remember to forget to invite you to their get together, their thin apology rubbing in the humiliation and rejection. In the staff common room, book club or cocktail party, they cannot admit you into the conversation because like when you were kids, “the game has already started”. You concede to sitting outside with the rest of your ilk; the fabulous, creative, uniquely styled, courageous, tenacious people who have deep values and integrity. Individuals, who have really made it in life, just like you. You still cannot help feeling that you are in the consolation prize group.
Inoculate your young from this misery. Teach them to care about themselves and others in ways that others wish to be cared about. Never be used or worse, allow yourself to use others. Never create exclusivity with secrets, nor share the secrets entrusted to you. Never pry into or even think about the secrets of others. Make social arrangements that are either intimate or inclusive, never maliciously or pointedly excluding. Never control who has access to your friends or stand by when somebody gets shunned or left out. If someone threatens the friendship because of another relationship in your life, align with the targeted person. Never be responsible for the hurt, humiliation or shame of another. Look at yourself and see how your sensitivity has never gone away. Nor do the qualities of the perpetrators, practices over a lifetime ever change.
Be the dove not the hawk. Never bluff yourself about what is really important.