The essential question I will ask you to think upon today is, “What’s the difference?” I know that is a pretty vague question that could leave you making your own inquiries. However, let me just clarify, when I ask “What’s the difference?” I’m asking you to apply this question to the human race. I am fortunate enough to live in a place filled with different cultures, religions, foods, and skin colors. Ever since I was a little girl my parents have been very encouraging towards me learning about these different ethnicities. I feel that this openness and exposure to so many unique people has led me to become the person I am today and I am so grateful for that. During some of my travels around the country I have met people who are not as fortunate as me, and during the course of their lives haven’t been in contact with so many different ethnical groups.
Acceptance is a word often used when discussing differences. However, I think we need to really examine the definition of acceptance. According to Google the definition is; the action or process of being received as adequate or suitable. I do not think that is enough. I do not think we should think of people as adequate or suitable. People are extraordinary beings. To me that sounds like tolerating a group of people, not truly accepting them. In my mind accepting a person or a group people can only happen when that person or group of people is seen for what they have on the “inside”, not the petty details. Think about it this way, when you are looking to make friends do you look for people with only the same eye color as you? No you don’t, because it’s a superficial detail. Your religion and skin color are details just as superficial as your eye color.
The first step to true acceptance is to learn to respect people regardless of the petty details. You may find yourself asking a tough question. Do I respect people regardless of the petty details? It is hard to ask yourself this truthful question and I understand that because I had to ask myself that question too. The answer was not a black and white yes or no. I realized I definitely had some prejudices acquired from school and the media. However, I also realized that due to my diverse upbringing and my parent’s encouragement I, myself, had become a more open person. There is definitely still room for improvement. I know that.
Once you learn this real world respect you will find yourself open to so many more opportunities in your life. So many more friends, events, jobs. The list is really endless. I have also discovered something else about being accepting, you learn a lot about yourself. In different religions and races they are different traditions and beliefs. When you take the time to become familiar with these different traditions and beliefs you will start to question your own morals and points of view. Questioning what you believe is a huge part of self-growth that I feel is necessary to become the kind of person you want to be. The things you will learn from acceptance are things you won’t learn from a teacher in a classroom. They are truly very special life lessons.
So I sit here and tell you all these amazing things about being accepting and you might be wondering why everyone doesn’t jump right into this whole acceptance thing. Well, it’s hard. We have been taught from a very young age that being different is great. However, our media constantly sends us subliminal messages about fitting in and being the same. Over time these subliminal messages take over our desire to be different. We find comfort in hiding in a sea of people who are the same. I cannot count the number of times I see people being treated awfully because they are different. Well let me ask you this. People that fit in where you live could just as easily stick out somewhere else. There is no perfect secret to fitting in. There is no password to get into the club. As teenagers we seem to find so much joy in being the same and receiving the approval of our peers. When we place so much value of being the same, it becomes increasingly harder to accept people regardless of their differences. So, as you may have concluded already yourself, sacrificing the person you are to fit in is definitely not the answer.
As I finish up this post I want you to consider this quote by George Orwell, “Happiness can exist only in acceptance”. I also want to challenge you to look inside yourself and decide what type of person you want to be. Start by placing more value in yourself and less on fitting in. Every time you begin to form a prejudiced thought in your mind, stop and think about what this person would feel like if you said these words to their face. Your thoughts are just as important as the words that come out of your mouth because eventually those thoughts will become the words coming out of your mouth. Ask yourself what is the difference. A simple question with an even simpler answer, nothing. There is no difference.
Leave a comment below what you will do to place more value in yourself and less on fitting in. I know you can do it!
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