I am not one of the "cool" kids
March 13, 2015 7:54 AM   Subscribe

Since I moved to the new city a year ago, I started work at a place that has rich social life. While I was initially warmly welcomed and invited to things, the invites faded away and I now see pictures on FB of their nights out minus me. How to stop feeling rejected?

Whenever I did go out with them in the past, I never felt quite comofortable. They (girls) are very popular and extroverted and I am shy. I felt like I was uptight and could tell that I didn't really fully go with the flow of the group. I did think I was perhaps being too hard on myself but then the invites stopped so obviously they noticed.

They have also all worked at that place for many years and have a rich history together. From their stories and FB some used to be close friends, and don't speak anymore, others had on and off friendship, others hold grudges of when one tried to steal the other's bf etc. So I feel like I don't fully understand all their dynamics which kind of makes me feel even more like an outsider.

I have 2 "steady" friends at works who are both married men so they don't go out much and dislike the popular girls so avoid them even if invited. I spend most of my breaks at work with those 2 men.

I just can't help feeling like I was back in high school and being rejected by the cool kids all over again.
posted by sabina_r to Human Relations (27 answers total) 6 users marked this as a favorite
You apparently spend most of your free time at work with 2 people who actively dislike the people you want to like you. It's not all that surprising that they've stopped inviting you to thing, because to them, it likely appears that you also don't like them.

Put them all on your FB "I don't actually want to see updates from these people" list so you no longer have to see the pictures of their nights out without you and to find some non-work friends. I went through this awhile back with one of my groups of friends where I suddenly stopped being invited to things, and it hurt like hell. Getting them out of my FB feed was a really necessary first step. I didn't defriend them completely, I just stopped following their updates.
posted by jacquilynne at 8:01 AM on March 13, 2015 [23 favorites]

Do you even like these people? Is your social life outside work dependent on them? Could your not being friends with them hinder your career prospects?

If the answer to all these questions is "no" - which is how your post reads, to me - then why do you care? If you are dissatisfied with your social life in general, there are plenty of things you can do about that which have nothing to do with these people.

Honestly, I wouldn't want to be friends with people whose friendships involve that much drama, anyway. You don't fit in with them, they don't fit in with you, so what? You're an adult. There aren't any "cool kids." It doesn't sound to me like you particularly like these people yourself, and you are free to be friends with whomever you'd like.
posted by breakin' the law at 8:03 AM on March 13, 2015 [20 favorites]

If you want to put a (somewhat?) positive spin on it, you rejected them first- you didn't really enjoy hanging out with them, you prefer to spend time with other people who also don't like them and they figured it out. There's no victims here, everyone is doing what they want and that's great.
posted by ThePinkSuperhero at 8:05 AM on March 13, 2015 [32 favorites]

From their stories and FB some used to be close friends, and don't speak anymore, others had on and off friendship, others hold grudges of when one tried to steal the other's bf etc.

This group seems like it has a lot of drama going on inside it. Do you really want to be a part of it? And yes, it does seem rather high-school.

It's great to have friends at work, but remember you're at work to work. Focus on doing well in your career. Indeed, part of that means cultivating connections, but my instincts say the two married men you're friends with will probably be more valuable connections or mentors than anyone this high-school clique.
posted by Leontine at 8:07 AM on March 13, 2015 [9 favorites]

That seems like a stressful work environment. Be happy that you escaped this. These people aren't really good friendship material because they're colleagues. Friend groups made up of colleagues always spells disaster.

Delete your Facebook or at the very least unfollow these people. Pick up a social hobby - take a painting class, a cooking class, rock climbing or hiking - and make some friends outside of work. You will be much happier if you focus on yourself and ignore these goofy people.
posted by sockermom at 8:16 AM on March 13, 2015 [5 favorites]

sabina_r: "I felt like I was uptight and could tell that I didn't really fully go with the flow of the group."

Echoing those who say this sounds more like a mutual breakup than a rejection.
posted by Rock Steady at 8:17 AM on March 13, 2015 [2 favorites]

So have you ever invited them to anything? If not, you could start with one or two people you really like.
Because people will stop inviting you if you never initiate.
posted by Omnomnom at 8:19 AM on March 13, 2015 [5 favorites]

Also, this?

I feel like I don't fully understand all their dynamics which kind of makes me feel even more like an outsider.

I understand their dynamics and can sum them up in one word for you: drama. That dynamic is not one that you want to be involved with at work.
posted by sockermom at 8:21 AM on March 13, 2015 [12 favorites]

1) It's rarely wise to socialize with your co-workers.
2) It's rarely wise to be Facebook friends with your co-workers.
3) When those co-workers define the kind of clique-ish drama you describe, the above aren't just unwise, they're just plain foolish.
posted by stormyteal at 8:45 AM on March 13, 2015 [13 favorites]

You don't want to be friends with these people. I'm considering breaking up a long-time friendship because the friend suddenly became addicted to drama and provoking arguments. There ARE good, carefree, positive people in the world. I sometimes find it hard to remember that they exist, but when they do come into your life, it's pretty wonderful. Avoid these people like the plague, and start looking for new work if this becomes a serious drain on your quality of life.

Join a Meetup, go to a dog park...whatever. Just stay away from the hell that is the cool kids' table. Gross.
posted by marsbar77 at 8:50 AM on March 13, 2015 [9 favorites]

All the above advice is great. Make sure you don't see their facebook posts and seek out some new friends you do jive with. There are awesome folks out there who are worth your time. Having other things to do, especially outside of work-related people, will help you move on from this bad fit.
posted by carrioncomfort at 8:51 AM on March 13, 2015 [1 favorite]

This is the reason why I have a policy of not FB-friending anyone I work with (I block them before they get a chance to friend me, so I avoid the awkward "shoot, they friended me, how do I handle this?"). Every workplace has that clique, but I find it much saner for me if I keep my personal life separate from my work life. Start making plans with other people who do not work at your office.
posted by vignettist at 8:53 AM on March 13, 2015 [1 favorite]

1) It's rarely wise to socialize with your co-workers. - NOT TRUE
2) It's rarely wise to be Facebook friends with your co-workers. - NOT TRUE
3) When those co-workers define the kind of clique-ish drama you describe, the above aren't just unwise, they're just plain foolish. - TRUE
posted by JenThePro at 8:56 AM on March 13, 2015 [1 favorite]

Are these the same women in some of your previous questions? Because if so, I think you know that they're not your "people." In fact, despite wanting them to like you, I don't think you actually like them all that much. Because they're drama llamas and actually kind of awful! And that's the hard part, isn't it? It hurts when they don't think you're the bees knees, even while you don't actually think they're that great either! Makes no sense!

It's this little bit of dissonance that you need to work on internally. Learn to talk yourself down from those feelings. You're NOT in High School, and those women are not the "cool kids." You're a grown woman who doesn't really like her coworkers. And they are grown women who still participate in the petty, exclusionary, insecurity-driven social dynamics of TEENAGERS. Seriously, your grown coworkers still act like children. No wonder you don't fit in with them! Remembering this won't make you suddenly immune to that twinge of rejection and sadness when they do exclude you, but it will take the power away from those feelings.

Oh, and yeah, unfollow their Facebook activity. They're your coworkers, and y'all aren't in High School. Spend time on Facebook liking and positively commenting on long distance friends' pages. Make your Facebook a happy place.
posted by JuliaIglesias at 9:00 AM on March 13, 2015 [5 favorites]

I agree with everyone, and work is work, but at the same time, you're there 8 hours a day (at least) and it's hard not to be affected by social dynamics, or at least aware of them (especially in an open-concept office). You can't exactly ignore them (especially if they're dramatic like that, and if they suck all the air out of any room they're in). Maybe you feel that you should hang out with them, because you're a woman, and they seem to be defining that space? Well, don't. Try to create as much comfort as you can around them - be grateful for your friendship with the two married guys, and cultivate friendships with other people who aren't as annoying as these women. (I am pretty sure they're annoying.)
posted by cotton dress sock at 9:15 AM on March 13, 2015 [1 favorite]

Do you have friends and a rich life outside of work? When you're starving, a fast-food meal can look like a gourmet banquet. So are you starved for social connection? If so, figure out how you can get it outside of work. Take up hobbies, join a church or synagogue, attend Meet Ups, take some evening classes, get to know your neighbors - whatever works.

While I always want to get along with my co-workers and enjoy pleasant, courteous relationships with them, I find that the more my out-of-work life - including friendships - fulfills me, the less concerned I am with having BFF's at work, especially if my co-workers are at a very different life stage than I am and/or their lives seem riddled with drama and dysfunction.

Think about why you want these people to be your friends, and how you can arrange your life so you aren't starved for connection.
posted by Rosie M. Banks at 9:23 AM on March 13, 2015 [5 favorites]

Why do you want to be friends with them in the first place?
It sounds like you are different person than they are.
posted by Flood at 9:25 AM on March 13, 2015

Once in a while, invite them out. Maybe there's a movie you want to see, or you want to have a beer after work, or there's some music someplace. Look in the paper, esp. if there's a local free paper, to find events. Go to lunch or coffee with them occasionally. Take a few pictures, post them on fb, signaling 'hey, I like you guys, look at us having fun.' If they slam others fro work, have a mental list of conversation points and turn it away "OMG, did you see the Voice last night? That guy that sang that song was sooo sexxxay." or whatever. Disclaimer: I am assuming your goofy colleagues like reality tv. This is not an endorsement of the Voice.

And look for classes, groups to join, meetups, etc., to find friends to build your life outside of people from work.
posted by theora55 at 9:39 AM on March 13, 2015 [2 favorites]

If you like this job and the field, you might want to find other people to hang out with besides the two guys. You don't have to be BFFs with the mean girls, but staying cordial with everyone can be useful in terms of expanding your career network, future references, referrals, etc.. If you plan to move into a different career path, no need to change anything. Work friends aren't soul-mates, they're just people you can stand to talk with while at work. I'd look around to see if there are any other people who you can get to know who aren't in the mean girls club but aren't married guys, either.
posted by Ideefixe at 9:42 AM on March 13, 2015 [2 favorites]

Omnomnom and theora55 are on to something with the advice to reach out to some of these women by doing some of the inviting for a change. I'm not proud of it, but I've faded from shy acquaintances before when I started feeling like I was the cruise director of the friendship and they never reciprocated, nor seemed to laugh and have fun when we were together. If you do manage to go out with this crew again make sure you are actively giving off "I'm nonjudgmental, easygoing, and fun to be around" vibes if that doesn't sound too impossible. Tall order, I know.

That said, dumping this whole group and moving on with your life is also really good advice you've gotten here, too. But I guess if your goal is to "stop feeling rejected," working on actively being accepted by them is a great solution. Failing that, you could totally try to "stop caring" and "start FB blocking" though the former is much, much easier said than done. Realistically? Aim for being cordial work acquaintances with the clique, and go out 2 or 3 times a year, while staying friends with the men at work, too.
posted by hush at 10:06 AM on March 13, 2015

I have been in a similar situation. Once I developed friendships with people that weren't coworkers, I felt much differently about witnessing my coworkers interact solely amongst themselves. I didn't feel excluded anymore, because I had my own thing going on after hours. It's valuable to maintain, at minimum, cordiality with and kindness toward people around whom you spend most of your waking day, but you should probably seek your true friends among people outside your workplace.

It's often unwise to rely on your coworkers as a circle of potential friends when they are in your life because they receive a paycheck to be in the same building. How do they treat their friends who have left your employer, and do your coworkers even speak to them?
posted by theraflu at 10:10 AM on March 13, 2015 [3 favorites]

This exact situation happened to me about a year ago: new in town, new (extremely social) workplace, being invited to things initially and then cut off except for one or two events. I still haven't figured out what I did to rub this group of drama-llama girls the wrong way, but it may have had to do with the perceived (by them) 'eligible' single men at work all deciding I was fresh meat (if this sounds like a high school saga, trust me, that's what my workplace is like). You hanging out with two married men may have these idiots conjuring up all kinds of stupid notions - especially if you're attractive, smart, well-spoken, etc. - bitchez be hatin'!

I am quiet and introverted, and ever since high school there's been times when people have assumed I'm aloof and snotty. In most cases, though, once people knew me better I'd form amazing friendships. But not here, no matter how nice I was - although I refused to kiss butt. It hurt like hell when they wouldn't accept me into the group - my confidence was destroyed. It affected how I viewed my new city, it affected my relationship with a guy I dated that I really liked, and it even put me off looking for non-work friends.

Things I learned:
- I was new in town, and lonely. I was trying to fill a void that was left by my old friends with the first group of social people I met, and they were toxic.
- For introverts (more so than extroverts), making friends is daunting. Just like dating, you have to weed through a whole lotta not-so-nice people to find the nice ones.
- You're not going to change them, no matter how nice or inviting or bitchy or carefree you act.
- People like this are not worth losing your self-confidence over. That made me second-guess my own social behaviors and exacerbated my isolation.
- I thought they were 'cool kids' because that's what my broken confidence told me. They really aren't - there's tons of self-confident people that look at them and wonder why they think so highly of themselves.
- I was an outsider. They'd been at the company for years before me, when it was still small and there was no one else around. They were comfortable with their group and that wasn't going to change.
-Some of the 'rejection' I perceived was exactly that, my perception. While at some point they did actively leave me out, my own awkwardness due to these perceptions may have made things worse.
- I was waaaaay overthinking things. Too much time on my hands, not enough connections in a new city, etc.

It's been a year and a half since I was at my lowest. Now, I have friends at work that are just as social and far from insecure (some of them are even cross-overs from the 'cool kid' group - the guys, because bitchy women don't usually stop being bitchy). We just planned a summer vacation together. How did this happen? I started valuing myself again, started going to social events at work and interacting with people that weren't in that clique. I made efforts to socialize outside of work, and built my confidence back up. It made a world of difference.

As much as people are going to think that I'm playing into the drama with this next statement, it speaks to how insecure this group of girls is. A few weeks ago I happened to be at a bar with some other friends (see? other friends!) when I ran into one of the girls from the group. She was drinking, and in talking to me let it slip that she'd "stalked my FB pictures and had noticed that I wasn't fully invested in this city because I keep leaving to go back to where I moved from" (two hours away). While that may have been true at the time, it just blew my mind how insane all of this was... you stalk my pictures on social media? Just... yikes. And yuck. Bullet(s) dodged.

Take home: don't let these numbnuts get the better of your confidence. There's as much hate and annoyance and drama (as you've seen) going on within the group as there might be with you, and you don't need that. I understand it's hard, but put a smile on your face and push yourself to meet other people at work and outside of work. It does pay off. Feelings of rejection are removed when you become confident that you're as valuable as anyone else is. If that logic works for relationships, it sure as hell works for friendships too.
posted by Everydayville at 10:15 AM on March 13, 2015 [4 favorites]

On preview: you're me! I'm a successful PhD who has her shit together, generally likeable, above-average attractive and can totally relate to many of the questions you've asked previously. I've overcome a lot of my self-esteem and confidence issues and am now in a great relationship, surrounded by a salt-of-the-earth friends that are just as successful and confident as I am. MeMail me if you'd like empathetic anecdotes on my little cache of insufferable work clowns!
posted by Everydayville at 10:34 AM on March 13, 2015 [1 favorite]

Un-friend or at least unfollow them on Facebook. They sound like people you don't really want to hang out with anyways! Jeezus. Seriously.

Try to make friends outside of work. As mentioned above, trying to be BFFs with coworkers can be a landmine (as it sounds like has happened already with some of your coworkers!).
posted by radioamy at 10:45 AM on March 13, 2015 [2 favorites]

Are they actually popular? Popular means: people know about them and like/admire them. Otherwise they are just kinda famous i.e. people know about them, but don't necessarily like them. Think about what popularity means to you.

Don't frame this as "popular kids" vs "me." That's your negative mind's attempt to hurt your own feelings again. That's YOU making this high school again. Not them.

Maybe you'd like to be more socially active, socially astute, socially accepted or what have you, and as an introvert you don't think you are this way already. Maybe a latent part of you wants the chittery, fun social butterfly flurry. It sounds like you do! And there's nothing wrong with that. Furthermore, you see these people as having figured out social stuff and you want them to acknowledge you so you feel like you've won this particular skill. But as many others have pointed out, being social, positive, outgoing and popular comes in different forms.

The pain here is that THEY decided for you whether you got to stay or not, and not you. So how can you maximize your chances of being the one to decide whether to stay or to go? This is something that is within your control. Work on your chatty social skills aka small talk, learn how to "read a group," how to insert yourself into a group in a way that maximizes your chances of being the one to decide whether YOU want to be part of that group (as opposed to them choosing for you). The classic is this book of course but search thru askme and there is loads of good advice. As mentioned above this sounds mainly like a confidence issue i.e. in your head they got to decide whether you are cool enough or not. Which isn't true.

Feeling like you've developed more social skills that you think you lack might help you take into control some social dynamics that previously felt out of your control, and help you see things in a balanced way.
posted by St. Peepsburg at 10:46 AM on March 13, 2015 [2 favorites]

You said their invites to you have dried up but have you ever invited them to anything that you initiated?
posted by Jacqueline at 11:24 AM on March 13, 2015 [2 favorites]

You're feeling rejected because you're putting yourself in a situation where you're seeing something happen that you want to be a part of, and aren't. You have control over that. At the least, hide or unfriend these people on Facebook. Find some new friends, go out with them, take pictures and put them on your Facebook feed. Make yourself too busy to wonder about what some people you don't even like that much are up to.
posted by Solomon at 12:21 PM on March 13, 2015

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