Separated from the pack

Exclusion is a cruel and unrecognized form of bullying


A boy sits and cries in despair over his loneliness. This accurately shows the depression felt when people cut off others in ignorance or an attempt to hurt them.

Megan Percy, Discover editor

Sixth grade cheer practice; it was the best of times, it was the worst of times. I had entered middle school and immediately found myself more alone, and with the loss of elementary school friends to what seemed like a river of never-ending new people, I looked for some new ones. I joined cheerleading after watching them flip, twist and jump all over the tile floor of the Saeger gym at Transition Day. I was mesmerized, and, in needing friends, decided to become one of the sparkling girls smiling, yelling and somersaulting in front of the whole school. But after two years, I eventually left, despite adoring the sport and everything that went with it. Why? Because I was bullied.

No one made fun of me, not to my face, at least. Most of the people were very nice. But going into my eighth grade, there were many moments I reflected on in which I felt more alone and embarrassed than ever, even when I wasn’t being berated or made fun of. Moments drinking my water alone on breaks, looking at my phone aimlessly to mask from myself and others that no one was talking to me; Halloween of one year, in which I cried silently while hoisting a girl in the air, being the only girl on the squad not invited to someone’s party; silently eating my food at an afterschool Applebee’s dinner for the team, everyone laughing and talking around me, ignoring my attempts at conversation.

No, no one made fun of me, I was just excluded. But is that really better?

Some of you might say it is. That it’s not on purpose- people just don’t always get invited to everything. And that’s true. Sometimes there aren’t enough tickets, seats, or invites for all of your best buds. It’s unavoidable, and no human being is capable of including every person on the planet, remembering every acquaintance they’ve been recently aching to hang out with.

But for some, it’s a convenient excuse. A way to lie to others and themselves so they can feel better about distancing themselves from certain people. For years, I have heard this excuse when I’ve confronted others; rarely have they owned up to this. And that’s because not only is it so hard to identify in others, but also in yourself. We all want to believe we are good people inherently, and so reflecting in ourselves and checking our own behavior can actually be harder than checking others.

There are many people who don’t do this on purpose, they just forget. They don’t ignore people, they just don’t see them at all. We all must make an effort to try to see every person in our lives, no matter what part they play, and invite them to be part of our lives. I know what it’s like to be unseen; I’ve been a victim of the blindness of others. It hurts feeling like you are not thought about.

So start. If you haven’t talked to someone in a while, pick up the phone and connect again. Include everyone, because you may not know who it is you are leaving out until it’s too late. Keep in mind that even if you separate yourself from them, while it’s not the same as spitting in their face, you will slowly break their hearts.