Over the past couple of weeks, we’ve focused on helping you broaden your understanding of yourself in The Complexity That Is You, and in Understanding Intersectionality. We’ve also discussed how different aspects of your identity combine to “increase your access to the good things or your exposure to the bad things in life” (as described by Kimberlé Crenshaw in a Feb 20, 2020 Time interview by Katy Steinmetz).
Today, we want to talk about a simple way to expand your world. To be clear, simple isn’t always easy but this exercise lets you start where you are.
Take a moment to look at your original list of 20 words or short phrases that describe you. If you haven’t done the exercise, you can see the suggested areas to consider about yourself here.
Then for each one of your descriptions, note the people that you have in your life who are different from the identity you described in yourself.
If you find that you have considerable diversity in your world and that you regularly connect with people who are quite different from you, give yourself a thumbs up. Some of us are only surrounded by people who are like us which limits our breadth of perspective and wisdom.
If you’re up for expanding your world, ask yourself these questions:
- What would it take to invite people who are different from you (on some key dimensions) into your life and then celebrate your differences?
- What are you missing out on by not fostering dialog with others who may think or be different than you?
- How much more progress can we make if we learn to appreciate and understand others regardless of their color, race, religion, gender, sexual orientation, socioeconomic status, or physical or mental abilities?
We’re not talking about broadening your world one time and then going back to being surrounded only by people similar to you. Think of this as exploring ways to create opportunities to be around people who represent different worlds than the one you’re living in, with the goal of appreciation and curiosity for other’s experiences and perspectives.
Life can be so much richer when we’re open to learning and sharing with others who have had different experiences, expertise, wisdom, and perspective.
We’ll leave you with a question that we’ve been pondering with the people in our worlds,
What would it take to weave together
a personal community of people
who stretch and expand
your understanding of the world?
We’d love to hear your thoughts.
In the video below, Heather talks about the importance of expanding your world and what that might look like for you.