When I was in elementary school the “thing” was wall ball. At recess, everybody who was anybody played. Wall ball was a game where you clasped your hands together in one giant fist, smacked that fist against a bouncy ball (a “wall ball” duh) and bounced that wall ball against a wall.
Now that I’m explaining it, I feel kind of stupid. The game basically explains itself.
Anyway, since only two people could play wall ball at a time, and there were only a few wall ball “courts” on the playground, the really good players would try to group together so they could get the most quality playing time in. The less-skilled wall ball players would wait to be invited to a group.
I’ll give you three guesses about which side I was on.
Yup. I was the one waiting to be invited to a team. And while wall ball might be unique to my situation, or my time period, or my school, this is an age-old dilemma.
Haven’t we all done our share of waiting to be picked for a team?
And yet, the biggest problem with this mentality is that it doesn’t leave us when we leave elementary school. Maybe you can identify with this. I’ve spent most of my life waiting to be picked for stuff: I waited to be chosen for a certain group of friends, for the perfect job, for a title or position I wanted.
When I was single, I waited for years for the perfect guy to show up knocking on my door.
I waited for someone to tell me a was “good writer” or that I should write a book. And you know what? I waited (and wasted away) years of my life. No one ever invited me to the things I wanted. It wasn’t their job. It was my job to decide what I wanted and to pursue it myself.
This is the biggest problem with waiting to be invited: we put all the responsibility for our life onto someone else.
It feels great to be invited, doesn’t it?
It really does. This must be why we wait for it. There is something pretty profound about being included, even when you haven’t asked.
But the problem with waiting to be included (at least for me) is that I end up feeling incredibly resentful and angry toward people for failing to do something that was my job in the first place. This would be like yelling at a roommate for not doing my dishes in the sink. Not only would it be pointless, but it would probably make the roommate less likely to include me (or do dishes for me) in the future.
Here’s the crazy thing I’m learning about being invited:
When I think back to the wall ball players, or to any of the other people along the way who seemed to be included in the group while I was left out, I see it differently now. I realize most of the people who were “invited” to the team weren’t invited because they were the best players.
They were invited because they weren’t waiting to be invited.
They had guts. Moxie. They believed in themselves.
They didn’t need someone to tell them they were good at wall ball, or that they were a great writer, or that they deserved a happy marriage. They already believed those things were true. And because they believed that, they put themselves in the game. They played with a sort of abandon. They got better and better.
So these days, I’m not waiting for anyone to invite me to my life.
What I’m finding is the more I make space for myself, the more others make space for me. When I am clear about what I want and what I’m about, the invitations aren’t quite so scarce. It’s not because I’m amazing. It’s because people want to help those who want to help themselves.
I don’t need an invitation. Neither do you. What we need is a little more moxie, a little more guts. We we need is a willingness to know what we want. What we need is to practice, practice, practice—and to make a little room for ourselves on the court.
Don’t you think?