I teach middle school, and while the age group can be challenging, I find that I enjoy them. I'm goofy with them, serious with them when I need to be, and my jokes always seem to "land" with them (which makes me a little sad but that's for another post).

I happen to work at a school where it seems like everyone is friends with one another. Like, really close friends. As in, in each other's weddings and having weekend get-togethers with each other's kids sort of close friends. I am friendly to everyone, but I generally keep to myself at work, exchanging pleasantries and talking shop mostly, and only have a few whom I would consider good friends.

However, sometimes I think this "close friend" atmosphere toes the line between appropriate work behavior and exclusion. Like when one member of your "team" e-mails the other members of your "team" inviting them out for drinks, and you happen to see the e-mail by accident in a colleague's inbox. You are not included on said e-mail. That happened last year.

Or when someone gets married, and half of your "team" is in the bridal party, and the other half is attending. And you're not. Extra bonus points when the kids notice that you're the only one not going. That adds a nice layer of awkward.

Or when, again, even though you've been friendly with everyone, especially the person with whom you work the closest, you see another round of drink invites that you're not involved in. I saw this one because the notification popped up on my colleague's screen.

What gets to me is less the actual lack of an invite, but the fact that we spend tens of hours each year lecturing students on bullying and exclusion, and how being left out of things feels bad.

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And then they turn around and do it.

I wouldn't have gone in any of the aforementioned cases (tonight, for example, my darling boyfriend made me coq au vin, which I devoured with glee). But the fact that, after working with these people for 3 years, the situation never changes and in fact repeats, and yet they continue to tell the kids not to do the exact same things they do themselves, really reinforces my initial inclination to stick to myself. I need to remember who my real friends are, and they are not at work.