There’s a 7 foot / 2.2 meter tall guy, a person with a marked skin condition that stands out as “not normal,” a porn actress, someone who stutters, and a disabled person who moves using a wheelchair. What do they all have in common?
My answer is that they’re just like you and me.
Sure, there are things about these people that stand out. It’s also a sure bet that these folks don’t need to be reminded about it for the million-and-fifth time, either.
And that’s what I mean when I say “they’re just like you and me.” Because, chances are, you also have some unusual trait that stands out, something you wouldn’t want everybody judging you by. Imagine what would happen if people paid tons of attention to that “unique odd trait of yours,” and if a great deal of your interactions with others were always immediately colored by “that thing everybody remembers about you that’s so … strange and different.”
That wouldn’t be so nice, would it?
Don’t have any odd, strange things going on with you? You might in fact be “unusually normal” and not realize it. And every minute of every day, many people are passing judgment on you about that.
But here’s the upside.
There are folks in this world – most of us know at least one or two – that refrain from passing such judgments; that do not let these initial “oddities” stop them from seeing the person behind the caricature. People like that are, indeed, a breath of fresh air.
And you can choose to be one of those people. By remembering that some unusual trait or characteristic does not make a person any greater or lesser or extraordinary or less worthy of being respected than you – and deciding always to embrace the person, rather than the caricature.
Don’t do this with flair or expect anything extraordinary to happen. Just quietly, humbly interact, person to person, with no agenda or pretense but the mutual pleasure of connecting with another human being. If you don’t know what to say, just ask everyday, ordinary questions you might ask anybody: about their family, about their likes and dislikes, about what they like to do for fun, the goals they have in life, and so on.
You may not feel right away as though you are doing anything earth-shaking by taking this approach. And that’s the truth. It’s not earth-shaking at all to treat people as human beings. It’s a simple, easy concept.
But let me tell you – it is so unfortunately and hauntingly rare these days to find someone whose mind truly strives to be in this pure, non-stereotypical space – that when we are in the presence of someone like that, it can be such a necessary breath of fresh air that we’ve been longing for without knowing it.
Even when no specific feature sticks out for someone to judge from, it’s still beautiful to know that you don’t have to worry – especially if you have been assaulted by people’s judgments in the past and remember how horrible it feels. That kind of trust and assurance slowly and silently moves mountains.
Be somebody’s breath of fresh air, now and forever. One day, you will find yourself moved, once you start noticing how many more open doors have quietly appeared to light up your life’s path.