Clique Confinement: Experiences of being left out in friend groups

Social organizations have constructed a way of not being inclusive to new people, in return making some people feel invisible.

Third-year theatre creation major Keeona Stewart poses for a portrait March 29 in the Atrium. Jacy Bradley, DN Photo; Alex Bracken, DN Photo Illustration
Third-year theatre creation major Keeona Stewart poses for a portrait March 29 in the Atrium. Jacy Bradley, DN Photo; Alex Bracken, DN Photo Illustration

Keeona Stewart is a third-year theater creation option major and writes “Stay Present” for The Daily News. Her views do not necessarily reflect those of the newspaper.

When I was a little girl, I was a shy, introverted person who was always afraid of making friends.

Everybody, including my family, told me I was a special girl, and I was different from the average person. For a long time, it was hard for me to believe that. If I was “special,” would I have friends who think this way? It wasn’t very clear at the time. 

I realized the more I try to please the people who didn’t like me for who I was, I was never actually happy. I made a shift in my life. I was open and ready to talk to people and make new friends. However, I learned something the hard way; everyone is not always what they seem to be or who you think they are.

When you watch movies like High School Musical, Glee, all of these TV shows and movies where you see the example of a clique, one person can dream and hope to be apart of a group of people who all seem to get along, who are really close and to have a best friend within that friend group. 

A clique is a group of people who share the same interests and share the same views and opinions, according to Nursing Management. I’ve dealt with many cliques, and they haven’t always made me feel included and valued.

As a theatre major, I know firsthand how society believes we are strictly about inclusiveness and amiability; we are a very diverse group of people doing different things, and the theatre community is about helping each other out in different aspects of performance lanes. 

There was a time when I was open to being involved in theatre more in high school. This was back when I was in a play with at least 20 to 25 people. In the beginning, we were all introducing ourselves and getting to know one another. Seeing that most kids were new to the whole thing, they talked to some of the people who had been in the program longer. They would talk and have fun with that person for the duration of the time. However, when the play was finished, it was like that individual was playing the part of “The Invisible Man.” 

It was like the people I worked with didn’t even want to interact me anymore. They would just say, “Hi, good to see you.” Afterward, they would see me walk away with other people from the play. They wouldn’t even ask me, “Hey, are you doing anything? Because I would like to hang out with you again.”

It was like they were only interested in hanging out with me for one time, and they never wanted to talk or be associated with me again. That feeling of your self-esteem and confidence being shoved and mocked right in front of your face. 

It just makes you question your personality, the way you talk to people, and the way you present yourself around new people. The question repeating in my head was, “What did I do?” 

Even though that person apologized, it still felt like that individual didn’t want any association with me. 

Another time this happened was two weeks after the play. The girl I had talked to for the duration of the play, I recognized her from the corner of my eye, spotted her, and said, “Hey, good to see you. It’s been a while.” 

She said, “Yeah, I hope you’re doing well.” 

There was a long pause of silence until I walked away and headed to a table where nobody was sitting. She saw me sitting by myself and walked over to the table I was sitting at, and she asked me, “Hey, do you want to come and sit with some friends of mine?” 

I said, “Sure, why not?” 

It was nice she acknowledged I wanted to sit next to somebody, but the voice inside my head was telling me something didn’t sit right. I sat down, and there were a group of people crowding around the table. They were all talking and laughing. I tried to talk and get into the conversation myself, but then, they were just talking around me and not even noticing me at the table. 

Whenever I would try to say something, they would either talk around me or just look at me like a stranger. The only thing I heard from each one of those people sitting at that table was a simple “Hello.” Then afterward, they were all gone and walked away from each other. 

I felt like I was kicked down so badly. It felt like I was chopped liver in a can. Whenever I would talk, they would give me a certain look. They would look at me like I was a complete stranger. 

Whenever I was trying to talk to the people around the table, wanting to introduce myself, they would talk in a different tone of voice. Very blunt, in a brushed-off kind of tone. The second I stopped talking, those people would sound and talk in a different way.

Every burning question about yourself comes boiling up to the surface.

What did I do? Was it something I said? Or something I did? 

It’s all the questions you wish you didn’t have to ask yourself. My self-confidence and self-esteem were all questioned at once.

In today’s world and environment, there should be more inclusivity and more acceptance of one another. We should be celebrating each other’s flaws and differences instead of just looking at one flaw and purely judging and shunning people off of that one flaw.

Everybody doesn’t have to be friends with everybody, but if someone is talking to you, they should at least show an effort to care and communicate.

Even worse, those people could be saying mean or unnecessary things behind our backs, spreading gossip and rumors. When this behavior occurs, it resembles a clique forming or already happening. 

Why is it that whenever we meet new people in a social organization, they have certain criteria on how to talk to people, how to behave around them, and the kind of activities and events they must attend and do together? 

I remember being heavily involved in many social organizations and making plenty of friends and acquaintances throughout my time in college. From dodgeball to kickball, all of the people in those clubs came from different backgrounds but also wanted the same things. They wanted to meet new people, have fun and not exclude a single person and make them feel small. 

But outside of those organizations we were a part of, we do many social interactions, like go get lunch and dinner on campus, go for a walk around campus, and go out to eat. We talked nonstop about anything that came to mind firsthand, whether it was something funny and random or serious and insightful. 

Then, there was this desire to join other social organizations, only to hear people asking me questions about why I wanted to do that.

The question is, “Why would you want to join that club? Why would you want to be friends with those people when you’ve got cool friends like us?” They were all into different things than I was. Those questions and the commentary made me think and question. 

If those people were really saying those things to me, then maybe I don’t belong here. 

When you say to your friends about another organization that could possibly spark their interest and their passion, they will either be supportive of it or just completely go into asking questions or judging you for doing something they are not really into. They could even think differently of you, like saying you are ruining or abandoning our “clique” by joining people who are not like us. 

Being a part of a group of friends means you should also grow and evolve your friend group and not exclude other people for various thoughts and opinions about them. When it comes to meeting new people, you don’t have to act a certain way with one person, let alone everybody you may talk to.

You’ve heard that old saying: never judge a book by its cover. In this case, it’s true. 

If you happen to have a big group of people you talk to regularly, nothing is wrong with wanting to include people who are different. Loving and accepting everybody’s quirks and differences are the new kind of social clique.

Cliques as a whole can be a hard stigma to break away from. People often feel like they need to act or behave a certain way in order to feel validated by a specific group of people. 

People can like people for who they are and what they do, they have the ability to be friends with everyone and not be confined to one big pool of people who hold a certain reputation. 

Contact Keeona Stewart with comments at