If we were all the same, the world would be a pretty boring place. Our differences are what make us beautiful, special, and interesting. This is true. So true. But...
You’ve heard all this before. It sounds clichéd. And it's certainly nothing new.
What we don’t hear as often is that we need differences in our world - different people in our lives - to challenge us. A world in which we’re all the same, a life in which everyone we meet or love or experience is exactly like us holds no challenge. Everything would be middle ground. No happy, no sad, no gamut of emotions. There would be nothing for which to fight, for which to strive, for which to celebrate. Without challenges, there would be no satisfaction.
Without differences, there would be no challenges.
Many of us are able to recognize the beauty in differences, able to understand that letting go of stigmas or prejudices are vital to a better existence. We can see THAT piece of why differences are important. We like to promote it.
The piece that is more difficult to remember is the one concerning judgment.
It feels great and freeing and hopeful and right to say that people who are different make our world interesting. That people who are different make our world special, real. We like to remember that everyone deserves love and acceptance. But we shouldn’t pick and choose which form of “different” we will embrace. There are two sides to every coin. Everyone has a tale. In our every day lives of embracing the beauty in difference, there are times we remain judgmental. We automatically eschew our “acceptance of all” attitude without even realizing it.
We want to live our lives filled with acceptance for those who are different from us – in age, in occupation, sexual orientation, socioeconomic status, diagnosis, appearance, etc. So don’t miss the big picture by forgetting about the little things.
So when someone walks by in an outfit you would never EVER wear, don’t think a snide remark to yourself. Remember that person is DIFFERENT.
When your co-worker walks in wearing really expensive clothes or shoes, don’t gossip about how she can or can't afford it. Remember that person is DIFFERENT.
When you see a young teenager pregnant at the mall, don’t shake your head in disgust. Remember that person is DIFFERENT.
When someone wears something you would never wear, owns something you would never own, or does something you would never do, don’t be judgmental – whether it’s aloud or just to yourself. YOU don’t have to wear it...or own it...or do it. And they’re just different. There are two sides to every coin. Everyone has a tale. And if you knew their story or what’s in their heart, you might be able to understand a little bit better than you can in that millisecond when the inevitable judgment kicks in.
Some people can be a challenge. But that is part of the beauty of difference. Without difference, there would be no way to make a distinction between ourselves and everyone else. No way to see our own identities.
And so - when you see that person in the mirror staring back at you, don’t think of something negative or mean or degrading. Don’t be judgmental. Remember – that person is DIFFERENT.