Let’s talk about Exclusivity. For this piece I am talking about exclusive defined as “restricted or limited to the person, group, or area concerned.” It’s something that has come up in several conversations I had during the holiday week. Sprinkled throughout the break I heard, “She’s exclusive in who she invites over to her house,” “we are having an exclusive party and not inviting everyone from the class,” and “I can’t bored you yet because your not in our premium class.” As human beings why are we drawn to this idea of wanting something limited or restricted? I would like to say that I am above feeling special because I get VIP treatment, but then I would be lying. I like the idea of being part of something that is not available to everyone. I like feeling special when I get invited to a party where just a few people are included. But, there are many more times when I am not on the “Exclusive” list. Usually, when I think of exclusive or private, i think of money. Unfortunately, my bank account doesn’t afford me many luxuries. No American Express Black card or personal shopper at Neiman Marcus for this gal. I don’t work in an industry that regularly gives out invites to special, private events or take clients out to fancy dinners and drinks on the company dime. I don’t get invites to owner’s boxes of professional sporting teams and I don’t have personal connections to people who can grant me access to backstage passes. But, even without my personal invitation from Anna Wintour to the Annual MET gala, I still find myself being excluded from many occasions in my professional and personal life.
At work, I rarely see managers eating lunch with their underlings except maybe on their birthday or if it’s the employees first or last day. I have never been invited to lunch with the upper echelons of management except for my immediate boss. When we have “senator management” meetings, we don’t invite those below us to sit in or eat with us. At many firms their is still that “old boys club,” where the men exclude the women from some of the after hours gatherings. A friend of mine who worked in insurance was always being left out of the after work gatherings because the men wanted to go to strip clubs. Even in my neighborhood there are groups of moms who only hand out with other certain moms. In fact, last year during Halloween, I was told by a neighbor mom, who I asked to go trick or treating with, that she was only going to go with one another family and that’s it. Who knew trick or treating could be exclusive?
So why do we do it? Why do we exclude each other and why does it sometimes feel so good when you are on the other side of that rope? Is it our ego’s? Does it have to with how well we connect with others? Or maybe it has to do with outside limitations, such as space of the event or money? My friend, Gabby, says it starts in elementary school. “Even at a young age,” she explains “there is that popular kids table where only the cool kids can sit. No matter what school you go to, there’s that popular table.” Gabby also wonders “if you are always given exclusive access, how high is that bar set before you start to feel special. If it’s what you are always used to, then what’s the limit?”
My co-worker says, exclusivity is actually genetic. “It’s a tribal mentality because of lack of resources, the tribe can not support everyone.” But, why does everything have to be exclusive. Even at the airport, unless you are flying Southwest, there are five different levels of exclusive classes when boarding the plane. First there is the those who need assistance, then those in the premium class, followed by the the executive class, frequent flyer members and so one. Literary three-fourths of the plane has already boarded before Group 1 gets to board.
Of course, i find that men don’t really have the exclusive gene. At least my husband doesn’t. When i mentioned we weren’t invited to another neighborhood’s potluck with some of my son’s classmates he said, “why would i want to go somewhere with people I don’t even know? That sounds awful.” He’s probably right. We would only know one or two people there, but it sure would have been nice to feel special.