More Similar than Different
My sophomore year of college I was asked to facilitate (what we would now call) a diversity training for fellow student workers of the Memorial Union. Looking back on it, I barely knew what diversity was (I was born and raised in a small, mainly white, rural Arizona town) but like many moments in my life, ignorance was bliss! I didn’t know what I didn’t know, so I jumped right in!
I began the training by having everyone place a pin on a world map, indicating where he/she was from. We had students from India, all over Europe, Asia, Central America, and, of course, the United States. I then gave each person 5 strips of yellow paper and 5 strips of green paper. On each green strip they were to list one way we were similar (e.g., all humans, all students at ASU, all worked in the Memorial Union, etc.) and on each yellow strip ways we were different (there I intentionally didn’t provide examples). After they had all 10 strips filled out, participants were instructed to bring their strips to the front of the room and link them to each others’, ultimately creating two paper chains.
A few minutes in, the group started to share that they couldn’t think of 5 ways we were different. I encouraged them to keep thinking. After another few minutes I had them start interlinking the strips they had complete. To my surprise the green chain - how we were similar - quickly formed and grew to be 3x the size of the yellow chain - how we were different. At 19 years of age, right before my eyes, I saw that we are more similar than we are different. This had a lasting impact on me and to this day, even when the world seems so divided and separate, I still see us more similar and connected than initially may met the eye.
A year ago when the #MeToo movement began to gain massive steam, we started to see women all over the world who had been sexually harassed and assaulted step forward and say, “Me too”. This movement has helped to show just how prevent this particular problem is, but there are many other ways in which we are similar to one another (share common experiences) as well.
For example, do you you ever feel like you are failing at both work and at home? To this could you declare “Me too!”?
What about dealing with a chronic illness? Me too?
Ever been abandoned by one or both of your parents?
Ever been physically or mentally abused by a partner/lover?
Ever felt not pretty/handsome enough? Smart enough? In general, just not enough?
Ever had your heart broken?
Days when you are so fed up with your children, you hide in the bathroom?
You get the picture. So often we are afraid to share our story, to tell our truth, but the reality is that in a room of 100 people, you would be surprised by how many people have experienced the very thing(s) you seek to cover up or run away from.
I’m on a mission to help people share their stories with the goal to not only aide in their healing (they say we heal when we feel understood) but also to give hope and courage to say, "Me too!" to those of us that feel different, isolated, and separate from the whole of this community we call Earth.
I’m going to start by sharing more of my story in the coming months and then by sharing others’ stories too. Interested in getting involved? Email me at firstname.lastname@example.org. We are all much more similar than we are different. Promise.
Be Still. Be Love. Be You.