I’m a B-list friend.

I’m not a top tier or A-list friend. I’m not a best friend. I’m no one’s favorite person.

Sure, I’m included sometimes, and I know my friends love me. But, the list of things a B-list friend isn’t included in is painfully long:

Girl’s night? Only if it’s a group of five or more.

Dinners with other couples? Only if it’s a birthday dinner where a room has been rented at a restaurant or function facility and the guest list is long.

Weekends away? Only if it’s a really large group.

Saturday night gatherings? Only if we happen to run into the host in the supermarket as they are picking up food for the event.

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Don’t get me wrong, my friends engage in small talk with me when we see each other in public. Occasionally I’m even included in a group text with a few of them, but it’s almost always a group text with a purpose like “Where is the basketball game for the boys tonight?” or “Do you know what time the fundraiser is this weekend?” Sometimes they reach out just to check in and they show up when in counts—like when I went through a breast cancer scare last year. But, then they disappear.

These aren’t mean women. Not at all. They aren’t trying to hurt my feelings or deliberately exclude me.

In fact, they often tell me I’m really “sweet” and “thoughtful” and “funny” and they are so “lucky” to have me in their lives.

I’m just not in anyone’s inner circle.

And it hurts.

A lot.

It’s not fun to be a B-list friend.

When you are the B-list friend, it’s painful to watch a group of your friends walk into a restaurant without you as you drive by on your way home from work. It hurts to hear all about how much fun your friends had last weekend at yet another “Sunday Funday” without you. It’s uncomfortable to sit with your friends at a youth sporting event for our children and listen to them plan their weekend away at the beach—a weekend without you.

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I’ve tried to be the planner myself—inviting them over for girl’s nights, or to our house for barbeques, or out for dinner. They come, they laugh, they tell me how much they love me, they say, “We should do this more often,” and then they move on with their A-list friends and forget about me.

I’ve tried to talk to some of them about it, trying to see if I have done or said something offensive or hurtful so I can make it better. But, talking about it almost always backfires into me being labeled “too sensitive” or they tell me I’m “imagining things.”

They probably are right. I am too sensitive.

I wish I could let all the exclusions roll off my back.

I wish I could see their photos together on social media and not get a twinge of jealousy and sadness. I wish I could see them walk into school fundraisers together and not feel a pit of sadness in my stomach.

I’ve explored what it could be about me that is just not fun to be around. I’m kind. I’m thoughtful. I reach out to others often to check in on them when I hear their parents are ill, they are going through medical testing, have vaguebooked on social media about challenges in their lives, or just to say hi.

But no matter how much effort I put in, it’s never enough.

I’m tired of being the B-list friend.

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I’ve tried hard enough. I’ve cried too many tears. I’ve let my feelings be hurt too many times.

It’s time to recognize that I am on the A-list for plenty of people: my children, my husband, my family.

I matter to enough people.

Enough people love me.

It’s time I love myself and accept my own worth. It’s time to stop measuring my value by how much effort my friends put into our relationship.

Even if I’ll never be good enough, or funny enough, or whatever enough to make it into anyone else’s inner circle, if I take a step back and look inside my own life, I can see my own inner circle is pretty amazing.

I am enough—even as a B-list friend.

Messy Beautiful Friendship reminds us that we aren’t alone in navigating the challenges of friendship. We thought you might need that reminder, too. Don’t have time to sit and read? No worries. You can listen to it here, on Audible.

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Jenni Brennan

Jenni Brennan, LICSW is an author, podcaster, college professor, therapist, and mother. Her work centers around the topics of grief, health and wellness, relationships, and parenting.