I didn't expect to be writing another blog so soon, but today I was really moved by our morning seminar. We were visited by a speaker, Lee Mun Wah, who taught us about diversity by literally forcing us to interact and make a connection with someone else in the room that we hadn't met yet.
I want to preface this anecdote by saying I've discovered over the last few days that I'm more introverted than I thought (although I do believe that introversion and extroversion are two ends of a spectrum, and one can fall anywhere in between). I am outgoing and I am good at meeting people, but it has been hard for me to actually develop a feeling of connection with someone (until today) and over the past few days I have found myself having or wanting to take breaks from being around other people. I enjoy being here in the company of all these intelligent fellows, but my mind works differently than some, and I need time alone to process the interactions I've had. Since we have such tightly packed schedules and it sort of feels like the week is flying by, I have started to look forward to the end of the day when it's cool outside and I can relax and reflect on the choices I made today.
Anyway, I looked around the room and I was sure I was gonna be one of the leftovers who had no partner. But almost immediately a boy reached out to me (I won't say his name, in case he'd rather remain anonymous). We did quite a few exercises in our pairs, but the one that resonated with me and my partner the most was a structured conversation with guiding questions that allowed us to explain the assumptions people make about us and the labels that people put on us. We went on to defend ourselves in a sense, talking about why people assume these things, why they are wrong, and who we really are on the inside.
I was to go first in this, so I talked about how when people see me, they notice that I'm white, while some make assumptions about my sexuality. The most prevalent thing that people notice about me is my self harm scars. I'm not embarrassed or ashamed, they're a part of who I was and how I became the person that I am today. But people look at me and they think I'm crazy or they think I'm a freak or they think depression is contagious. And it's frustrating because I'm so much more than that. We all are. I'm so much deeper than that. But when someone makes an assumption about you it's hard to get that image out of their head. We have to force ourselves into being vulnerable. We have to actively push ourselves into these conversations. Chances are, if you put yourself out there and tell someone the things that hurt you and the things that trouble you, they will do the same for you. You might even discover that they've gone through or are going through the same thing. And you will definitely discover friendship.