Embrace Someone Who Is Different From You

By on January 12, 2018

differentI was thinking about Sh*tholes this morning and how I might weave that current hot topic into a post/column, when I came across a social media post from a dear friend. (Aren’t all our friends dear though? Isn’t that part of the whole friend thing?) Today SHOULD have been her son’s birthday. Tragically he is no longer with us. But out of that tragedy, out of HER pain, she reminded her friends to remember him by doing a variety of things. What immediately struck a chord with me were her words: “Embrace someone who is different from you.”

Those words are so powerful to me. They leapt off the virtual page at me and struck me in the heart. “Embrace someone who is different from you.”

What makes us so wonderfully unique as human beings is that we are all different and yet we are all the same. We all come from the same building blocks of life. At the core, we are all made up of the same atomic material. Yet each and every one of us is different. We look different, we sound different…I have no hard evidence, but I suspect we even taste different. We ARE different; yet we are the same.

So why are we hesitant to embrace difference? Maybe you personally aren’t, but it seems to me that many of us are. We are hesitant to talk to someone who is “not like us.” We fear what we perceive as “the unknown.” But is it really unknown? Being “not like us” is the beauty of our world. Embracing difference in all aspects of life makes us better people and widens our own personal horizons. (At the start of the 2017-2018 school year, Verona’s public schools unveiled a poster that says, very clearly, that we embrace our differences here.)

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While we want to spend time with people who share our interests, isn’t it also fascinating to be with those who DON’T? To learn about something else that is not in our daily scope? To find that perhaps something we thought we weren’t interested in at all is fascinating? I think of all the things that I THOUGHT I didn’t/wouldn’t like because of my own personal prejudices or fears, until someone introduced me to them with their love and passion. My world, my life, is better as a result. 

When we are all alike, life is boring and cramped. I love the beach. I love the smell of the ocean and the feel of sand underneath my toes. But if EVERYONE loved the beach; think of how uncomfortably crowded it would be. (Imagine every day being like a summer holiday times a billion.) The very thing I love, would become something I’d avoid. On the other hand, my husband is more of a mountain person. As a result I’ve visited some areas that I would NOT have if I’d just stuck to my narrow like. Furthermore, I’ve established a new interest of hiking because of a trek to the mountains. I found something new to enjoy because I tried something different.

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Embrace difference. Try new things. Get out of that comfort zone and get to know people who are “not like you.” You just might find that:

  • They ARE like you.
  • What makes them different also makes them interesting.
  • You LIKE something that you had never encountered or tried before. You might even discover a new passion.

Embrace someone who is different from you. Don’t do it for them; do it for yourself.

Beth Shorten is a life-long resident of Verona. For five years, she has been chronicling life here on her personal site, Bfth’s Boring Blog.

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