When we are younger, societal pressures already begin destroying our free thought. We are taught that it is unacceptable to dress a certain way. We are told of trends we should like because everyone else does. We are taught to interpret things a certain way and we are often brainwashed into sharing the same thoughts as most of the people around us. It is only when we meet people outside of our bubble that we realize how much we are missing.
I grew up in a small town with very little diversity. While I was able to form some of my own opinions, I realized how sheltered I was once I went to college. There I met Jay. He was so different from me and a lot of this was due to his background. He was born in Europe and moved to the USA at a young age, where he grew up in one of the wealthiest towns in the state. But when I met him, I was shocked at how different he was from me. It was confusing to meet someone from another country (because that’s so rare in my hometown) and to try and understand his life. At first I didn’t believe he was from Gouda. After all, Gouda wasn’t a town…it was a cheese!
But as I learned more about my new friend, I became fascinated with his life. I loved how different our childhoods were from each other and I wanted to learn everything I could about his European lifestyle. It wasn’t until then that I truly realized how awesome it is to be different from other people. Jay’s European background, his travel history, and his weird quirks convinced me of that.
Being in a LDR has strengthened my view that people should embrace their differences. One of the reasons Jay and I have become such a strong couple is that we’ve accepted and encouraged each other’s unique qualities and backgrounds. We often get lost in conversations about certain Dutch traditions or talking about my childhood, topics that would be much less exciting if we were more similar people. We welcome the conversations to learn more about each other instead of suppressing our differences. What makes us different and unique is part of the reason we like each other so much and one of the main reasons we have such a strong relationship.
Don’t be afraid to be different, because that’s what defines you as a person. Never discourage other peoples’ differences, embrace them. These differences are the foundation of our individuality and what truly makes us who we are as people. It’s okay to be different, even if society tells you otherwise.