It’s really easy to slip into a fearful mindset, especially when we’re living in such a diverse society. Everyone is unique in terms of personality, interests, backgrounds, gender, ethnicity, sexuality, finances, careers and the list goes on for an eternity. So it’s impossible to find people around us that have an identical view point on the world as ourselves. All of those things influence our perspective, whether rightly or wrongly.
Perhaps, for myself, my sisters would be a good comparison as we are close in age, location and obviously have the same family set up. But at the same time, we’re three very separate individuals with largely differing opinions and outlooks.
I feel the concept of being afraid of people who aren’t ‘like us’ is pretty childish, but I still see it as strongly now in adulthood.
As a teenager it made me so angry and hateful towards others who segregated themselves from people who didn’t fit into their ideal mould. I was on the receiving end of verbal and sometimes physical abuse because of my tastes in music and fashion. Two things which, lets be honest, are pretty trivial issues. I’d dread to think what it’s like for someone who faces discrimination based on their accent, geographical background, sexuality or disability.
I’m not only talking about in-your-face discrimination. I’m talking about not giving people a chance, or the same chance, we would give someone who fits more into our ideal. Perhaps not engaging in as much conversation, not offering the same invitations or being quick to laugh or condemn someone because we’re reflecting our own insecurities onto them and the situation.
We’re all guilty of it to a certain degree but what worries me, is that a lot of people aren’t even aware they’re doing it. If I feel insecure in a certain situation because it’s abnormal or new to me, it can be really easy to deflect that sense of fear and put the blame somewhere else.
I don’t have much patience but I have patience with people and always try to give everyone the benefit of the doubt. This isn’t because I’m ‘nice’, it’s because I try to put out into the world what I’d like back. I want people to break down barriers which only exist in their own heads and come together. I want people to see those differences as a reason to learn and share with each other. We need to step outside of our self-built-box of restriction and fear.
Opening up our minds to the world around us can lead to adventure and beautiful relationships. Learning about the differences of people won’t hurt, but only aid us on our journey through life. I’m not asking for people to start befriending randoms on the street in some shiny happy world. I’m just asking that before we treat others differently, either extremely or subtly, we should ask ourselves “am I afraid of what I don’t understand?”
Fear lives in all of us but if we let it lead us, it will destroy us.