Standing out from the Crowd
The same ways in which we blend into the crowd in one environment is the same way we might stand out from the crowd in another environment. My focus in this blog relates to times in which we stand out from the crowd. Two recent experiences have inspired this blog:
- With a group of peers who shared a different faith to me.
- On holiday when most people were of a different race to me.
It takes confidence to stand out from the crowd and ‘own’ the difference but also be able to feel that this is ok. After all, differences abound! We live in a rich and vibrant world.
However, the problem occurs when people are intolerant of differences. I experienced this when discussing my particular faith with some peers from church – the responses I received ranged from an open reception to my way of thinking and acceptance of my belief as perhaps different to their own, to a look (on the face of one) that can only described as being shot with a stun gun – to an arrogant response from another.
However, I held my own and why should I not? We are ALL entitled to our beliefs and my experiences have lead me to where I am so it is as valuable as anyone else’s beliefs. Acceptance of this fact has helped me to feel freer to share my opinions rather than feeling bound and gagged by my fear of ‘upsetting’ others.
Censoring myself only ever created a feeling of inadequacy within myself and would not have given my audience an opportunity to open their minds by considering another person’s perspective.
The other experience was when on holiday I had a wonderful time- no issue occurred as I have experienced in the past due to intolerant people and their ignorant issues; everyone was friendly and minded their own business. I had a lovely time, it has not always been this way and perhaps if I had a chip on my shoulder from my previous experiences it could have coloured my experiences somewhat; I think it is imperative for one to be able to reflect and acknowledge how we can influence situations.
Just because race has been issue once doesn’t mean it will always be. Differences can be ok. And with the range of ways in which we can be different, this is a similarity that binds us.
I’d be interested to hear your experiences about diversity and standing out from the crowd. Similarly, there were many parallels between gender and race which I highlight in my review of Sheryl Sandberg’s book ‘Lean In’ and I’d encourage you to take a look.
This book actually inspired a diversity training which I developed called: ‘Diversity Training – New Focus on the Familiar’.