Dare to embrace your difference.
Difference. How can we explain it when talking about sustainability?
Difference is abundance: Mother Nature, with her stunning and inestimable biodiversity, proves it to us everyday since the beginning of time. So one of the most sustainable things we can do is to embrace our being different and thrive on that.
After losing 52% of our global biodiversity in the last 40 years, we also lost a good chunk of our chances to survive on this planet. This is because even the tiniest little organism on Earth is fundamental for the balance and well-being not only of Earth, but of our species. If we want to thrive, we must let differences thrive.
Think of Earth as a human body. Each and every part of what composes our gorgeous, walking temples is extremely important, and losing one will surely alter our balance. Continuing down this road, if we lose 52% of our body, then we lose more than half of it and it would start being rather hard to live.
This is because diversity is paramount not just to survive, but to live.
However, it’s not just a matter of necessity.
What does it mean to “Make the Difference”?
Embracing our differences makes us feel good.
The moment we decide to rock ourselves and finally be who we are, in our own specific and beautiful uniqueness, we feel free and whole, even happy.
And this is probably because difference is the opposite of judgement.
Judging implies categories in which things fall: Big or small, sweet or bitter, shiny or matte. Ultimately: Good or bad, right or wrong.
But when we switch our perspective and we empathize with others and nature, we might end up realizing that there’s no right or wrong, no good or bad, but just different ways of doing things, different opinions, different priorities.
There’s only me and you, in our great, different uniqueness.
Moreover, we might end up realizing that we can learn from each other, we can let others inspire us, observe life and choose who we want to be.
The Arena quote. Make your Difference.
I remember when I started exploring these thoughts; it was a few years ago and I was reading “Daring Greatly” by Brené Brown. There’s no person on this planet to whom I wouldn’t recommend this.
At some point, she quoted – what I call – a Biblequote by Theodor Roosevelt. Aka: the Arena quote.
“It is not the critic who counts; not the man who points out how the strong man stumbles, or where the doer of deeds could have done them better. The credit belongs to the man who is actually in the arena, whose face is marred by dust and sweat and blood; who strives valiantly; who errs, who comes short again and again, because there is no effort without error and shortcoming; but who does actually strive to do the deeds; who knows great enthusiasms, the great devotions; who spends himself in a worthy cause; who at the best knows in the end the triumph of high achievement, and who at the worst, if he fails, at least fails while daring greatly, so that his place shall never be with those cold and timid souls who neither know victory nor defeat.”Brené Brown
I know, maybe the word “different” doesn’t appear anywhere in it. Still, it is not the critic who counts.
It’s not the judge nor the judgement. It’s not the category. It’s us. Our own self. Different and unique, contributing to the biodiversity of this world and this species. The more we dare to embrace our diversity, the more we get closer to who we are. And chances are, we’ll feel better.
Today I feel like letting the quotes speak, so I’d like to leave you with this one last thought.
In Africa, there’s a philosophy that represents this preciousness of diversity almost perfectly and is that of Ubuntu.
“I am because we are”.
A solitary human being is a contradiction in terms. Self implies others, and a person is a person only through other people. None of us can be all we can be, unless others are all they can be.
So if you want to lift yourself, you have to lift others, and if you want to shine, you must point the light on others. After all, a candle doesn’t lose its flame by lighting another candle, yet together they will shine brighter.
We can never be threatened by others, because others are good, because the better they are, the better we are. When we dare to be different and we embrace difference, it’s a win-win life.
An invitation to journal
- Observe five people who are part of your life and who you know well enough:; how are you two different from each other? Is there something you might learn from those differences?
- What is an “arena” of your life? Why is that? How does it make you feel to be in there? Would you prefer not to be in there?
Take 5 minutes of your time. Close your eyes and think of a part of yourself that you don’t let out because of the fear of being judged. Now let that fear go and imagine how it would feel like to embrace that part of yourself and show it to the world.
Let your emotions flood your body, as if that was a new reality, as if you actually are that person, who shows themselves fully, fearless.
When you open your eyes again and you go back to your daily activities, try to carry that feeling with you, as if you already are that “new” version of yourself.
Try to repeat this exercise at least 5 minutes everyday. Notice how it makes you feel while you do it and try to observe if it brings any difference to how you live your life.