Don’t Wait to Be Invited to Your Life

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.

Photo Credit: John Tornow, Creative Commons

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?

15 comments on “Don’t Wait to Be Invited to Your Life

  1. Totally identify with this! Slowly, I am learning that I can’t keep sitting around, waiting for the tide. If I want something, I have to pursue it. Or I’ll just end up wasting my life away.

  2. First, I love that you used the word “moxie.” Haven’t seen anyone use that in forever.

    This is a great post as always Allison. I think the reason why a lot of people wait to be invited is because when deferring the responsibility (of the invitation) you can also defer the blame if something goes wrong.

    Thank you for the gentle reminder to get in the game.


  3. When I finally put myself in the game I was astonished at how welcomed I was. “They” weren’t keeping me out; I was.

  4. This problem is so prevalent in our society. I’ve noticed it most recently in relationships. People want friends but remain lonely because they are afraid to take the first step. We need this encouragement to take a risk, step outside our comfort zone, and initiate a friendship. After identifying this tendency in ourselves, we need to think about what we are afraid of. What holds us back the most? Identify that fear or insecurity and fight it!

  5. Enjoyed reading this post. 🙂 I did find a couple typos as I was reading it. My fav one was “I waited for someone to tell me a was “good writer” …”
    That one made me smile. 🙂

  6. “…the biggest problem with waiting to be invited: we put all the responsibility for our life onto someone else.” Yes. Yes! Last year, at my 20th high school reunion, as I told people about my upcoming book release (first book), I done home that night pissed off that I’d spent TWO DECADES waiting for life to write in neon in the sky that being a writer was ok. You think I’m keeping quiet about that now? Heck no!! Telling every person I can to get out there and do what they love. . . not waste life waiting for permission!

  7. I can definitely identify with this. I realized that if my life was a movie, I would be the “best friend” because I always felt like the tagalong. It wasn’t until I decided to be my own main character that I started feeling comfortable putting myself out there. Thanks for writing that you were waiting too. It’s always comforting to see that other people have been there.

  8. I love this. It’s something I should probably frame and hang over my desk. However, I think some areas are easier to approach without an invitation than others, don’t you think? What do you do when you move to a new town and even though you go on playdates and invite people over it just doesn’t really click – you just don’t find the kind of friendship you had before…?

    • I hear ya on the new seasons. Leaving relationships behind an pursuing new ones is challenging. The thing I am learning is not to replicate my friends but embrace the people around me for who they are. Instead of chasing that feeling of what things used to be like or how I used to feel with so and so, embracing the new feelings and places of this season. This has made me appreciate where I am and who I am with so much deeply and helped me cherish and continue to nurture those previous friendships. Don’t know if that helps, but wishing the best an d encouraging to hang in there! Life still happens, it just looks a little different.

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