Recently I’ve been analyzing the allegiances people have with one another. I find it curious how some bonds can be fiercely strong between those of seperate families of origin, and some are directly linked the people we share DNA with. Usually it’s uncommon to see people with tight family circles ever get too close to anyone outside that circle (mom-daughter bond above all other female relationships) and equally uncommon to see women with strained relationships with their mothers, or sisters (or having no sisters) to be without one or many “BFF’s” they overtly advertise as being the “imoprtant ones.”

I get a sense that defining relationships have something to do with belonging. There seems to be an intrinsic need within all humans to feel like they belong to something. Even the most reclusive individuals I know who may be socially inaccessable to the larger group, whatever that may be, will still live within a secret world where there is some set of people with whom that person identifies. People who “get” them the way that others don’t. But who are these “others” and why are they other? Why do why try so hard to find people we comfortably meld with in likeness and see people with different values than our own as an automatic threat to what we believe?

I for one have been guilty of this on more than one occasion. To be more accurate, on probably every occasion but one. I tend to scan my mind for a quick WWJD answer whenever I feel my kindness meter go off kilter. The solution that comes is always the hardest to practice: non-judging. Embracing differences in values (what do you deem as rude, or impolite, or selfish or uncooth?) in order to live completely unaffected by the variety of people who will challenge our constitutions is difficult because to do so we must risk being identified with something outside ourselves.

If you are someone who thinks tatoos are scanky, does befriending a person with serious ink tell the world you accept something you don’t? What if you are a die-hard SAHM and you find yourself chatting at a party with the working mother who finds her career exactly the thing that keeps her family life in balance? Do you automatically feel defensive of your own choices because you feel belittled trying to glamoraize housekeeping to a person who hires it out because it’s frankly a waste of her time? Is that an automatic red flag to move on to refresh your beverage, or do you feel secure standing there in your flips next to the gym-toned, well-accessorized woman of the world? I bet no matter how much your frumpy clothes make her feel good about herself, being able to assert yourself confidently in conversation just may take her down a notch quicker than jumping ship would. Because when you linger in the company of someone with very obvious differences from yourself, you are sending the message that not only are you okay with her choices, you are okay with yours. Once that whole exchange has ended you are able to move on about the reality of the ONE world we live in and the ways in which all people have to share it.

Simply put, is all the this camp/that camp business really necessary? Why is it so essential for women to create circles and cliques to validate ourselves when we could put that energy into just loving ourselves? Could we then be free to do a social taste test based on the qualities, talents and gifts of others rather than our own? What if in every interaction, rather than scanning our brain for ways a person reinforces who we are, we took time to really see who they are, and what they are about?

I’ve decided to make this a new goal. Rather than focusing on the ways in which my friends provide a sense of security for me in all that I live for, I am going to make an effort to see how our differences insipre me instead.

With my peeps, this experiment will be no sweat. Those relationships have already been sealed. The task will be with those who I am not so comfortable with. But, if there is one thing I’m secure with is the fact that I am not required to like all people. As a decent individual I’d like to make a genuine effort to respect all people, but liking is not a requirement.

I think the real growth will come the day I accept that not all people will necessarily like me either. That’s okay. I’m not perfect, far from it, but I know my worth and that will always be enough. I guess at the end of the day I’m happiest when I truly belong to myself.

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