I'm not really feeling this prompt because we are told that it is our similarities which hold us together as a human race. Being unique and different is almost passe. In fact, the more you are exposed to people on the internet and expand your social circle you begin to realize that in the end we are more the same than different. Nonetheless, here it goes:
December 8 - Beautifully Different. Think about what makes you different and what you do that lights people up. Reflect on all the things that make you different - you'll find they're what make you beautiful. (Author: Karen Walrond).:
If I am pushed to contemplate how I am different than other people I can easily defer to my physical appearance, but this does not necessarily make me beautiful. My wrinkles, blemishes, and imperfections are definitely my own and no one else's. But beautiful? No way. I am morbidly obese and so is 30% of American adults; unfortunately, not a noteworthy difference. So, for the purpose of this reflection, let's forget the physical differences which make us 'beautiful'.
Another thing I thought about which makes me beautifully different is my choice in people whom I've gotten to know and even fell in love with (but is this really a choice?). I guess what I'm trying to say is that ever since I can remember I've been intrigued by people who are different than me. I've allowed myself to think outside the box and got to know people of different religions, cultures, and races.
I was raised a Roman Catholic, in a middle-class white neighborhood, in Stamford, Connecticut. It wasn't until third grade that kids from the other side of town were being bused in our elementary school. So, I was lucky to be immersed in a diverse educational community at such a young age. While some folks may have been uncomfortable, I was intrigued. At first, I was the victim of bullying. It seems that the black girls always threatened to 'kick my butt'. I'm not sure why I was sought out specifically but, in the end, we became friends.
A lot of my friends, growing up, were Jewish. I was lucky enough to be invited to their Bat Mitzvah's. I even wanted to convert. Their religion seemed so much cooler than mine. I was impressed with the synagogue, ceremony, and celebration. Being Catholic seemed so boring in comparison.
In fifth grade I had my first kiss with a boy who was Portuguese. He was beautifully brown-skinned with warm brown eyes. Yes, he was beautifully different than all of the other boys. My brother teased me by saying, "Spic and Pam". It was horrible to hear a racially-charged nickname. And, I knew even at that tender age, that it just wasn't right (besides the fact that the Portuguese speak Portuguese, not Spanish!). It was sad to grow up with such ignorance.
In middle school, during the Iran-hostage crisis, I became friendly with a young man who happened to be Iranian. He went to my school, he looked a little different, and had a great sense of humor. It caused a problem at home when he called and I had to explain who he was to my parents. I didn't see what the big deal was but now I realize that my parents came from a different generation with different ideas about appropriate interactions. Unfortunately, my friend moved to California but he made it a point to keep in touch with me and wrote me quite a few letters.
In college, I soared and met so many new people from such vast backgrounds that the energy and excitement of learning went beyond the classroom and my curiosity was filled in the relationships that formed. I met people from different parts of the United States, Brazil, Germany, and Jamaica. All of these people brought with them different accents, languages, attitudes, and cultural habits. I thrived on learning how we were different but what brought us together, ultimately, was our similarities. This was a beautiful discovery!
I fell in love with a black man who was born in Germany. This was not intentional or on purpose. You really can't help who you fall in love with and my relationship with my husband, David, is proof. When we met, in my twenties, we were both unemployed, unattached, and vulnerable. We were each others' cheerleader and biggest supporter. We grew up together emotionally. While my family did not approve of our relationship, at first, I did not care. It was David, the human being, whom I fell for. His race, his color, and his religion did not matter.
What makes me beautifully different? It is the relationships I form with people from many different religions, races, and cultures. What do I do that makes others 'light up'? It is my appreciation for the differences and similarities we share.