Posted on

To Belong

To Belong To Belong

Hannah Egle, second place

“Diversity is the mix. Inclusion is making the mix work.” - Andreas Tapia Inclusion is important in lots of areas but most importantly in friendship. I have a friend who struggles with her close friend group. She has been getting left out of things from sleepovers to conversations. It all started when she told her friends that she was not continuing on with something almost all of them did as a group. After that, it gradually got worse. She would scroll through their Snapchat stories and TikToks seeing them all together without her. It slowly chipped at her soul. They would intentionally talk about plans in front of her as if she wasn’t there. She would be lonely on fun nights like dances and football games. Though it made her sad, she ignored it, thinking it would go away over the summer. Once the school year started up again she was still getting left out. Gradually, she was starting to accept reality and find new and better friends. Although she had multiple other friends that she could hang out with, it still hurt to see them together without her. She kept going back to them hoping they would accept her again, but it just was never the same. Of course, they would act like they were best friends in public, but behind the screen they were leaving her out again.

I learned from this experience that including people is very important because I know how it feels to not be invited to stuff. No matter how severe, being left out is nothing to laugh about. I think it’s truly hard to understand how it feels without ever experiencing it yourself. I think that no matter who a person is, we need to make them feel like they deserve to be here. Another thing I learned is that to be genuinely happy as a kid, you need to have good friends who don’t purposely exclude you to make you feel bad.

I now live my life always trying to make others feel wanted. When I have friends over my mom always tells me that if there is anyone not going anywhere to invite them even if I don’t know them that well. The feeling of knowing someone wants to be friends with you can make your year. It gives you a sense of belonging. I know that when I go into high school next year there will be a lot more exclusiveness. That’s why I am going to try extra hard to make sure I am including everyone. When I graduate high school I want my classmates to remember me as the person who never let anyone feel alone. If there is a random student sitting by themselves, I would be the person to go sit by them and have a conversation with them. Even farther in the future, I want my kids to follow the same way of life. Always give a place for people to belong.