I have always thought differently. I remember, in high school, I had a fantastic social studies teacher Mr. Combs. In his class we were learning about political beliefs, what they were, how to define our own, and most importantly why we thought that way. He would separate the room into left or right and allow a brief debate about why each side felt the way they did. I found myself standing alone in many instances. Today, I don’t stand alone. I do stand apart.
Stereotypes and structure are not insurmountable aspects in any way shape or form. In developing a relationship with my girlfriend, I disrupted the preconceived ideas about what a relationship should be early on. If she wanted to be a part of my non-traditional lifestyle, she would have to be part of my non-traditional way of thinking. In having a radically honest conversation about what I was looking for in a relationship we became spiritually intertwined in a way.
Radical honesty is one tool I use to raise questions about what we do and why we do it. In my girlfriend’s situation, I was looking to find out whether she was or is capable of being stronger than me. Simply because society has shaped our thought patterns to think of women as less physically or emotionally sturdy than men doesn’t make it so. Fortunately, she is a stronger person than I could ever dream of becoming. It took raising the question for both of us to realize what the full potential was that lay before us.
“The person who follows the crowd will usually go no further than the crowd. The person who walks alone is likely to find himself in places no one has ever seen before.” – Albert Einstein
This principle of questioning the norm can be applied to all kinds of situations (not just relationships). It should have been applied sooner in the slave trade. We don’t challenge enough when it comes to LGBT rights and inherent prejudice build into our public social structure. Companies play follow the leader rather than taking the initiative to lead themselves. In the corporate world, were afraid to stick out like a sore thumb. However, it is usually the outliers who are capable of the greatest growth and reward.
Change is resisted by most. We are, after all, creatures of habit. The only way I am able to learn and grow as a citizen of the world is to undergo change. Understanding for our fellow citizens is not an inherent quality. We need to step out of our comfort zone to be able to empathize with all walks of life. Don’t be afraid to think or act differently. Change, uncertainty and growth is what the human experience is all about.