By Kennedy Dendy | Broadcast Executive Producer
If you look around your campus, workplace or even within your own organizations, you will find various levels of interaction happening. There will be those who you can tell have never met a stranger and others who tend to keep to themselves. While no two people are the same and some prefer different levels of socialization than others, it is clear that there is one thing all individuals long for: community.
Regardless of your age or how long you have been at one particular place, community is important to human beings. There is an overall desire to be wanted, noticed and accepted, even by those we have never met.
The infamous phrase from the popular 2004 film “Mean Girls,” “You can’t sit with us,” has been repeated countless times, printed on apparel and known by the world. However, is there a deeper meaning to these five words?
Think about it. There are individuals you see every day in class, at work, on the bus or even just in passing. Chances are someone is simply searching for a friend, someone to grab lunch with or even a confidant for something they are struggling with. You never know what the person seated next to you is going through, so why not be an includer?
From a young age, we’ve been given talks and lectures about how to “be a friend” or how to “stand up for what is right.” This is especially true among preteens and teens who are often surrounded by cliques and lunchroom drama, but it does not stop there. With new chapters in life come new seasons for everyone.
As one enters into their college life, this can bring both exciting and unfamiliar feelings. Some wish for a new beginning, but they may not know where to begin. Once settled, many tend to cling to what is familiar and remain comfortable with the life and friends that they have. This often happens with those who are heavily involved in organizations, make friends easily and live surrounded by people they can call “friend.” This is not the case for everyone, so it is important to be welcoming to those around you who are in need of community.
While many may not realize the deeper issue that exclusivity causes, it does not change the fact that true loneliness exists in our communities. With the rise of technology and social media, it has become easier than ever to resort to your cellphone for comfort. We live in a world with heads glued down to cellphone or computer screens to avoid making interactions with others around us. This may be an ideal scenario for some, but there are others who would greatly appreciate a simple smile and conversation from a stranger.
Being inclusive can be approached in different ways. This can look like inviting a classmate out to grab coffee with a group of your friends. If you have been a part of an organization for awhile, why not sit with a younger, newer member at a meeting? Putting yourself in the shoes of others will allow you to see the world around you differently.
According to the Health Resources and Service Administration agency, “two in five Americans report that they sometimes or always feel their social relationships are not meaningful, and one in five say they feel lonely or socially isolated.”
Look up. Inclusivity doesn’t require you to actively seek out those who those who “appear” alone. It goes much deeper than that by stepping outside of your comfort zone and being cognizant of what is happening around you.
Inclusivity opens the table for meaningful conversations that can lead to long-lasting and genuine friendships. Having the mindset of an includer, rather an excluder, contributes positively to a welcoming, loving society.
Kennedy is a senior journalism major from Grapevine.