This thought came to me when I read a blog post about being insulted or avoided when being different from others. The writer was wondering why is it that people can’t just accept the fact that people are different and so be it. Why it is so difficult to cope with.
We all tend to think ourselves rather accepting and tolerant persons, at least I wouldn’t like to think myself as a narrow minded redneck in any case. But the truth is quite something else.
I think that the fear for the unknown is somehow inherent in all of us. We have used to see the world from our own point of view only, and for some reason we also tend to think that it is the only way to see it. If something is dfferent from me, there is always a possibility that it could be something dangerous. I see this feature as a some kind of a primal instinct from some ancient times when the most important thing for our survival was the ability to discern the possible threats.
We are sheep. Really.
Have you ever observed yourself in different situations? I have. It’s kind of fun sometimes.
One thing I have noticed about myself is that when there are other people around, I tend to let them to do the decisions. When I’m alone, I have no problem to make them myself. I can give you an example from a documentary I saw some years ago and also one from my own life later on.
In this documentary was made a fake emergency situation. People were sitting in a waiting room when some smoke started to come under one door. There was a huge red alarm button clearly visible on the wall. Now, how would you have reacted? Pressed the button, right?
The results of this experiment was that if the person was sitting there all alone (s)he had absolutely no trouble of immediately pressing the button and perhaps going to the door and trying to help anyone who was supposed to be inside. But things started to go really interesting when there were several people in the same room.
When the smoke started to come uncer the door nobody did absolutely nothing. They peeked the other persons in the room, and when they saw that nobody was worrying, they didn’t worry either. So, the smoke kept coming under the door and everybody was sitting quietly and peacefully doing nothing.
My own example is a bit similar, but from quite a different situation. Stopping the bus when standing on the bus stop. When I’m alone waiting my bus, I have no hesitations to raise my hand to stop the right bus. But – now watch me – if there are others… I keep waiting till the very last moment to see if there is someone else who will raise his/her hand to stop my bus before I do it myself. This could be also laziness, right?
What has this to do with differency?
Well, when avoiding to be different you tend to become similar with others. Similarity is acceptable, right? Do you remember those messy teenager years, when the whole meaning of existense was to fit in, belong into your group of friends? But then again, there has always been those persons who have made this being different as some kind of an art.
What makes some people being succesful when being different, and others avoided and neglected?
This is a question I would gladly have an answer, but I really don’t. I would like to believe that being yourself is enough. That when you are comfortable in your own skin, others would accept you as you are.
The truth is, everybody is different. You are different from me, I’m different from my neighbour, my colleagues, my bosses, my friends, my family. Nobody sees this world and it’s opporturnities and challenges quite the way I do. And I think that is good.
You hear me? That is good.
But it seems that we still are afraid at first being different from others ourselves (thinking too much about what others will think if I do this or that, at least we in Finland are pretty good at that), and secondly we are afraid of others who are different from us.
This person I mentioned in the beginning told me that people are not willing to get to know him first before making hasty judgements and opinions on him, and I find this very sad, because he is very charming and friendly and funny – as I think we all are if we can be ourselves, who we are meant to be.
So, even if you’re or someone else is different, it’s all good. And even though differency might be scary, we are braver, aren’t we?