The Power of Invitation

By: Jeff Abell

Most of us have experienced not being invited to things. It’s not a good feeling. We tell ourselves that we would never do that to someone else, but invariably we do. Other times we understand we can’t be invited to an event because they don’t have enough room, but we still wish we would have made the list – like a friend’s wedding. Sometimes we have prior commitments and wouldn’t be able to attend but we still would have appreciated the invitation.

A simple invitation – from asking someone to get ice cream with you to inviting them to stand beside you at your wedding – can be very powerful.

For young people who are navigating the murky waters of real life and social media life, invitation is the currency du jour. When a teenager isn’t invited to a party or when their close friends hang out without them, they know almost immediately through Snapchat, Instagram or Twitter. Feelings of exclusion, that they are unwanted, that they have no value, that no one likes them – these follow quickly when people are denied invitations over and over, or sometimes even just once.

Three of Youth Resources student leaders started a weekly pick-up game of baseball this summer. At first, it was all male and all young people. By week two they had invited some of YR’s male staff members. By week three they had invited more peers, some of whom weren’t affiliated with YR. This week some of our female student leaders were live texting their first baseball experiences.

It’s profound that all these students and adults want to share their time and lives together. It’s more profound that one of them told us that the invitation to play was the most meaningful, important event in his life recently after months of feeling lonely and alone.

Life is about connection, about being seen, heard and valued. An invitation creates that connection in an instant because it shows that you care, that you want to share your time with someone and that they are important to you.

Extend an invitation to someone in your life this month – adult or young person. You might never know how much it means to them, or to you.

Jeff Abell is the Teen Advisory Council Program Coordinator at Youth Resources of Southwestern Indiana.