A beautiful boat, a floating party of a ship, passes by. You see the lights, the fun, the chance to mingle, to see and be seen. Oh, to be on the boat! But you’re on the coast, watching it go by and feeling the absence of connection, the sting of having not been invited aboard. It seems to go by daily, if not every couple of hours. More parties, more fun, more of just what you want to be a part of.
From the coast you can’t be seen but the boat is an unmistakable silhouette of your absence and of what you’re missing. It feels like the boat was not only missed but dismissed you in the process. And it goes by and slips into the horizon, deep into the night. The air is cold and you are left again, standing in the shadow of your unseen beacon of light.
The past few months have felt like I’ve been watching from the shore. Colleagues, friends and partners have been gathered on the boat in contribution with pieces they’ve written, advanced book reviews, free VIP tickets to summits, as featured guests, philanthropic adventures, gatherings, lots of gushing … passed me by. We all know it, that sting of not being asked and overlooked. It’s easy to feel not only overlooked but even worse, dissed and dismissed.
I see this often being referred to as wanting to ‘be one of the cool kids’. I disagree. (I am the cool kid. So are you.) It’s about feeling connected.
We feel connected when people recognize our gifts and talents. We thrive when they thrive from those offerings. We shine and create light for others. To me, that is the feeling of being most alive, shining that light. “Our people” are both fuel for the light and recipients of its warmth and glow.
There’s a big emotional distinction and difference between being overlooked and being dismissed or dissed. Feeling overlooked can feel like your offerings are being dismissed, if not dissed. But that’s adding a wholelotta story and interpretation towards making a fear real.
So what can you do when that boat goes by?
Drop the story, love. It’s easy to invest in our own fiction but it keeps us from moving past it. It’s human nature to make up a ‘why’ (why didn’t I get asked? why didn’t she see me? why…) but it’s just a story. A good “so what?” may seem far less exciting to a sad heart, but really, so what? If the story doesn’t serve, it’s just trashy pulp fiction.
Bless their hearts! Maybe the one who didn’t invite or ask you has no idea just how hard you can rock it***, no idea the extent of your gifts or already cast others into the role. Maybe they forgot. We don’t know. But nonetheless, send ‘em a little love and move along.
Use it as fuel. It’s been the times that I’ve been overlooked that have lit the biggest fires under me. Tears and anger can show us what is important to us, what we really want. And being water and fire, they have excellent transformative powers. My greatest feats (*** and while I’m quiet about them, have been massive, epic and impressive, but those who haven’t been able to see me have no idea, yet) have often come from being really fired up about something that didn’t happen. Really, watch out. When I get in this space anything is possible. I bet that’s the same for you too.
Conduct a litmus test. Ask yourself, “Is that really where I wanted to be anyway?” The answer might well be yes. But often to our surprise, it’s no. The boat looks good but is it your boat? Your people? Or is there just some aspect of the party on the boat that would like to import into your own life? While it’s always nice to be asked, this is a chance to look and see if this is really the ship we desire.
I was on a boat when I figured this out, leading 60 people on a coveted and beloved cruise up the Norwegian coast and I didn’t feel connected. My talents were in no way being tapped or put to any use.
While I was a good guide, my passion was teaching about the country, the culture, the language, and personal transforming through cultural inspiration and as a loving witness. But all of the things I longed to share and show people were out of reach because I was stuck on a boat. The country and coast were passing by, largely overlooked. This didn’t mean the land wasn’t worthy, that the villages weren’t adored, or that the natural beauty was diminished.
There is just as much going on along the coast and when we stop lamenting the boat we’re not on, we can turn towards it, enjoy and cultivate the gifts of where we are and notice the connections already there but previously missed while longing for the silhouette on the horizon.
While invitations are nice, they don’t define our worth, don’t mean we aren’t adored, nor does it mean the beauty of who we are and what we do is any less.
It just wasn’t our boat this time. And that’s ok.