In the last little while, I have found myself in various situations in which I am associating with people I wouldn’t normally associate with. The diversity I have found by shifting social circles has been incredible to me. I, like everyone else, have stigmas and stereotypes that may or may not match the people they are pegged onto. In these experiences, I have not only learned a lot, but I have found a few bright stars in my life as well.
For centuries there has been an awareness of difference of skin color, and an extra sensitivity in the last few years. Even difference in gender has become a sensitive topic. I will argue that culture, social class, and education are a few more of many aspects that are apart of diversity. We are all diverse, the fact isn’t something we can escape. So I want to talk about it, because we will always have major differences between all of us as individuals.
I am an introvert, meeting people is hard for me anyway, and meeting people who are different from who I’m used to is even harder. I think for anyone, being around people you aren’t used to takes time to become comfortable. What has struck me recently though, is that people are really weird. My close friends and family have all kinds of weird quirks and I let them know that I think they’re weird all the time, but I still love them.
When I meet people who would be considered diverse from me, I quickly see the weird in them. Social skills, cultural habits, personalities, physical characteristics all play a part in what I see as weird or different. However, as an introvert, I watch and I see that people are so good! Strangers may match the first-impression stereotype perfectly, but I’ve seen glimpses of how people make more sense. Understanding parts of their stories, allows me to see that people are absolutely incredible, regardless and because of their differences.
I’m assigned to work with children in my church meetings, and we sing a song about how some people walk differently or talk differently and how we show our love by treating them like anyone else. I watch those kids treat one another as equals and almost seem oblivious to what is different about others.
I won’t say we should not notice differences, because that isn’t possible. But rather, seeing the wonderfulness in diversity. This applies in writing by having strong, fully developed characters. Notice the diversity in life and apply that to your writing.
I will say that there is a fine line, diversity should not be a statement. While I would consider myself a feminist, I don’t agree with the excessiveness of the topic. My blog on Mothering goes into more detail about that. The Writing Cooperative wrote a good blog post that points out examples of diversity expressed well, and some that is making a statement.
So, find the diversity in the people around you and learn how wonderful it is. Those who have different challenges can inspire you. Others with different habits or beliefs may help you think in a new way. People are all weird and crazy, but they are mostly good and incredible.