Most of my life, I have really enjoyed being around people that are very different from me; that being said, I also spent a lot of my life being incredibly irritated with people who disagreed with me and felt particularly defensive. I love being right. Don’t f*ck with me, I will Google that sh*t.
Recently however, I am noticing that I am less inclined to enjoy being around people who agree with me. Like-minded people are not necessarily people who agree with me. It’s been a real epiphany.
They don’t encourage my passionate debate. And that sucks, because it is one of my favorite things. It’s not that I like to argue…Really. I like to learn….Read on…
I’ve spent the last three years in graduate school: the first year was spent in a very small cohort in a very small town. It was nice, I really love some of the people there…others, meh. It wasn’t very diverse, that is for sure.
The second two years were spent in a much larger metropolitan area with people from all over the place. Very diverse. Sounds cool huh?
Not always. Now, mind you, I have met amazing people who I have no doubt that I will be involved with my entire life in that program. But there are others that were in the program that “agreed” with me, but they just made me feel really robotic about my thoughts. I have been trying to critically reflect on this and what I have recently decided is that my learning ends when I am around people who agree with me.
And it doesn’t matter what the topic is.
Politics, economics, race, religion, class warfare, the military industrial complex, the prison industrial complex, social work, or even something as benign as micro brews or freaking music. I find it much more conducive to the fine tuning of my own opinions, my own truth if you will, to have to understand someone else’s point of view and more thoroughly explain my positions without being defensive. It is a real skill. I like having practice in it and I cannot practice with people who are all “oh, yeah, I totally agree.”
I’ve always told my kids that if they can’t explain something to me, they don’t understand it well enough…go back and study or try again…
And yet, I haven’t fully held myself to that.
It’s nice to be undefensive and feel validated in your opinions.
But only for a minute.
Until you look around and realize that you are either surrounded by “Yes, people” or people who you intimidate that aren’t going to question what you say. Talk about boring. *YAWN*
I am really enjoying learning from people who are different from me. I am really enjoying the fire in my gut that lights up when someone says something that gets my hackles up….but learning to control that fire long enough to come up with an awesome counter to continue the conversation?
Oh yeah. That’s the good stuff.
Bring it on.