Tuesday, March 13, 2012

Differences that teach me

Call me crazy but I really thought that at 33 (and only a month and ten days away from being 34) I might not be so afraid of people not liking me. That maybe I'd have some confidence in who I am and what I have to offer in a friendship. I still lose my marbles a little whenever I go somewhere that will surround me with people I don't know.

After living in this community for over five years, I still feel like I have three heads. I have friends here but sometimes it is exhausting knowing that most of their world view is more conservative than mine. I keep my mouth shut a lot because I am afraid I may get burned at the stake if I were to voice many of my beliefs  even with the one friend I consider a very close friend. For the most part I have shied away from sharing liberal items on Facebook. I know my friends back home wouldn't have a problem with it, but here is another story. A couple weeks ago I finally took a chance. I was sick of hiding. A woman that I am hoping to become friends with posted this and I shared it. A number of my friends from back home 'liked' it. Just as quickly, another friend from here commented as to why she disagreed with it. (Now I know she is just sharing her opinion, and she believes that as well, but it often comes across like she is ready for a fight.) I struggled for a few minutes as I tried to decide how to word what I thought - terrified that I wouldn't be concise enough with what I wanted to say or worse, sound like an idiot. Luckily, a friend from back home swooped in and beautifully stated an opposing opinion which was exactly what I wanted to say. (I thank her for her thoughts.) I'm not sure if constantly being surrounded by these differing opinions will push me too hard - I already feel stifled.
"Our differences they do a lot to teach us how to
use the tools and gifts we got yeah, we got a lot at stake."*
I'm trying to grow. Rather than avoiding people who hold different views, I listen. I have learned a lot about making connections with people who I don't click with immediately. I met one woman within the first year I lived here but it wasn't until we both had kids that we became friends. I know I wouldn't have been able to friends with her when we first moved here. I didn't understand how to be friends with people who thought very differently than I about some things. I felt threatened by differing opinions but I am finding that there common threads to build friendships on and learning more about myself. When it comes to the really important things, my views aren't changing to what I am surrounded by, I'm learning more why I believe what I do.
"we had to learn how to bend
without the world caving in
I had to learn what I've got
and what I'm not
and who I am."
When I first moved here I went through a lot of culture shock and I struggled. There was a lot I needed to learn about people and friendships. I had spent so many years with people who had similar experiences as I did (school, working in the music community). Those I became friends with rarely had different moral/political beliefs than I did. I took this for granted and truly thought it would always be like this. Perhaps it was about time I learned that this isn't always the norm. I'm not sure if constantly being surrounded by these differing opinions will push me too hard; I already feel stifled. I am trusting that my gut will tell me when I have compromised too much. It's been a pretty trustworthy guide so far.
"I won't give up on us
even if the skies get rough
I'm giving you all my love
I'm still looking up.
I won't give up on us
God knows I'm tough enough
We got a lot to learn
God knows we're worth it." 
 It is hard to feel so out of place on a regular basis but I am holding on. (Some days, barely.) I'm trying to have faith in myself but it can be harder some days than others when I feel like I'm lacking connection to the people in my life that keep me grounded.

*All quotes from Jason Mraz's song I Won't Give Up.


  1. I have a friend who is extremely liberal, and I'm rather conservative. We became friends because we worked together. I'm pretty sure we wouldn't be friends if we hadn't had close proximity for several years. Early on we have banned politics as a topic of discussion, because it was very divisive. I can say that it has been a blessing to have her in my life.

    1. With my friend, I don't usually bring up politics or anything. She will bring things up once in awhile but I don't try to go into any detail. I've learned a lot about what it means to be a very conservative Catholic from here - which isn't all bad. But it does make me happy I've maintained my Lutheran/Episcopal roots. But you're right, she and I have both expressed to one another how glad we are to have each other as friends. I wouldn't want to change that, but sometimes I wish I didn't have to be so careful with everything I say.

    2. Oops. The friend I mentioned in the post is not the friend that I mentioned in my reply! The one in the post is a newer friend and she seems to want to bring up politics A LOT.


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