We are all different. We look different, have different jobs, hobbies, favourite foods, live in different areas with different coloured paint on the walls. We're married, single, divorced, employed, unemployed, young, old or in between. We have different cultures, beliefs and states of health. We spend our leisure time differently; some choose to read a book, others dine out, go to parties or play sport. These differences are accepted and embraced. Life would be so very boring if we were all the same.
Difference is measured by the majority so the further you stray from the mainstream the more 'different' your unique situation becomes. And that's when it becomes occasionally problematic. What is it about our society that it sometimes struggles to accept anything that strays from the norm?
I know you have your own differences. Some may be large and some small. Us too. I used to feel unusual due to our lifestyle. We choose to live in a way that is respectful of the environment and, with that as my goal, we didn't care if it seemed strange to some that our crockery didn't match, we had a compost toilet on the verandah (isolated property), or that I had holes in my jeans. As a big picture issue these details were unimportant.
Happily, lately more and more people are living as we do and moving away from a world where money and possesions are the be all and end all. I've also gradually met more people who live like us due to concerns about climate change. Therefore our lifestyle is moving toward mainstream and becoming normalised. In this particular case, I'd be delighted to see one of our differences become the normal for the majority of the population because lifestyles need change. Climate change is becoming an urgent problem and needs serious action to be taken on every level, from individual households, to organisations and governments. I'm not even going to bother searching for links to back up my statements here. You know it's true, and if you don't, take a minute to do some basic research.
However, I don't aim for all of our family's uniquenesses to become the same for everyone. I shouldn't need to be 'the same' to expect acceptance. Our family has three ways in which we digress from the path most are taking. My children are homeschooled. My daughter is living in a gay relationship. My son has Down syndrome.
Here's the thing. These things are not differences to us. They are our normal!
You have no idea how often my poor children get asked "Why aren't you in school today?" But that's ok because people are totally unused to seeing *gasp* children older than toddlers in our world during the hours of nine till three thirty. There's no malice in the question but it gets a bit annoying in its repetitiveness. And then there are the judgements. Are the children socialising? Are they going to learn properly? Are our family sure we're doing the right thing? Umm.... no, but is any family sure? Can any family predict a happy future for their child?
|The 'manly' expression|
|Joining tug-o-war at a family fun day|
|such a little/big girl|
|my two granddaughters|
|Ella, cooking with Lou Lou|
So what do you do if you are one of those on the outside observing the differences? You do nothing. You accept other people as they are. Hopefully you even embrace the diversity. If you really struggle with acceptance, then possibly you should do a bit of soul searching to see why you have issues with how others are living their lives. Lives that don't affect how you choose to live yours.
While our differences can't really affect other people's day to day life, negative opinions can cause us unnecessary pressure and emotional angst while we go about our lives, living them the best we can. Opinions shouldn't matter and deserve to be shrugged off but the nature of humans means it's not that simple. We take things on board. So hey - like us, love us, admire us, be our friend and we'll accept you just the way you are too.
I wonder how different your normal might be.