Have you ever noticed how most of us in the American culture fear standing out from the crowd? We try our best to fit in with the herd, to be normal. We don’t want to be too tall, too short, too fat, or too skinny. We don’t like our looks if our nose is too wide, our skin is too dark or too light. We want to blend in and not draw attention to ourselves.
Somewhere at sometime in our lives, we discovered it wasn’t safe to stand out from the crowd. Blend in and it’s safe. Bringing attention to yourself isn’t safe. Above average, below average, don’t be noticed. We are average. We want to fit in.
Oddly enough average people admire those that excel. We cheer on the successful and dream of being like them, yet we unwilling to pay the cost. Then when the successful become too successful, we turn on them. We despise them. You doubt me? Look at Michel Jackson, Walmart and Microsoft. We loved them until they were bigger than life, and then we were threatened by them. We looked for any dirt we could find on them to prove they didn’t deserve the status they had gained.
In contrast to our fascination with success, think about how we look at the less fortunate.We see the handicap, the poor, the ugly, we look the other way. We’re not comfortable with “them”. “They” look different, or act different than we do, so we don’t trust “them.” We are most comfortable with people that look like us and act like us. That’s likely a large part of the racial divide in our nation. We like sameness and we fear things that are different.
I have a theory about why we like sameness. It may start out that when we’re young, we’re picked on for being different, but I believe it’s deeper rooted than that. I believe that when average meets different, average gets uncomfortable, because average then has to question itself. Why am I different? Am I right, or are they right? Should I do more, or am I doing enough? Are my beliefs true, or are their beliefs true?
We fear different, because we don’t like the confrontation that happens in our minds. We dislike different because we are forced to confront ourselves, our actions, and our beliefs. We’re afraid that we may have to make a shift in our thinking or our behavior if we don’t like what is uncovered by confronting ourselves. It doesn’t feel good. It’s hard to change. It’s easier to hide in a sea of sameness. It’s easier not to change.
I challenge you to face your fears. Boldly surround yourself with those that are different. Embrace the discomfort of confronting who you are and why you are they way you are. Don’t settle for average. Don’t try to fit in. Be who you are. You’ll be the better person for it. You’ll be stronger for it. The world world around you will be a better place because of it.