Seeing Ourselves In The “Other” (Guest Post)

Sometimes I get private feedback from readers of the blog. This is one such case, from a person who asked to be only identified publicly as "an older white woman who is struggling with her own prejudices." She wrote and sent me a post that I’m happy to share with you here today.

As a side note, I asked this reader to also consider sending a version of this to their local newspaper as an opinion article. And if you are an advertiser (or "content blogger" who or someone who wants to give me a "sponsored" post), you should know that my credibility is not for sale.

That bit of admin out of the way, I’m going to let this guest author speak for themselves. – Steven

Thoughts on being “other”…

Have you ever been with a group of people where you felt as if you didn’t quite fit in? In a school classroom, at work, or at a social event? A situation where you didn’t really feel that you could completely be yourself? Or where you felt tolerated but not actually part of the group?

I have.

Most of my life I’ve felt somewhat on the outside “looking in” in most social situations.

Maybe that was just me — but maybe not. I’m not sure.

I’m still a shy introvert. I’ve not been mistreated or thought of as less than because of any overt characteristics {1}. I’ve not been bullied. I’m a straight, white woman and have good one-on-one friends and a happy marriage. I’ve just not been part of the “in crowd” with classmates or coworkers. And yet, this writing is not about me. That feeling of “otherness” is something I can put aside the majority of the time.

But I have felt the exclusion and feeling of being different — sometimes more painfully than I wished. But a recent conversation brought about the following thoughts.

What if I were in one of the more easily profiled groups? Or a group being targeted by lawmakers? A group that makes me a target of prejudice or hateful political or social commentary? Or even a group that makes me fear for my life? Would I have that uncomfortable feeling of being “other” all of the time? Would I feel that I did not belong or had to hide my true self most of the time? Would I feel that I live in a state or country that doesn’t respect my right to exist? How would that affect my day-to-day life or my feelings of self-worth? I can’t even imagine.

It behooves all of us to examine how we think of people –- those that we perceive as different from us because of any number of things (race, religion, sexual orientation, political beliefs, socio-economic class come to mind). We may not agree or choose these people as best friends. However, if we think less of them because of their differences or if we deny them the right to be, then we are prejudiced.

And that must stop.

{1} In my professional life in a male-dominated profession, I did encounter wage discrimination and the subtle, but real, discrimination because I was female. I did what I could to fight that battle while I was working – especially the perception that women were bitchy if they were assertive. Unfortunately, I think that’s still a concern for women.

Featured Photo by moren hsu on Unsplash

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