I grew up in a rural state and greatly loved my childhood. My neighborhood was filled with children my age, so there was always a playmate just a simple doorbell ring away. I grew up in a military community and learned in my adulthood this employer is what exposed me to diversity in my youth. At the time, I was just confused as to why I would make friends with a peer, and then they would not be in my school the following year.
Year after year in school, I would make friends with students who would only be in the area for a little while, but I loved getting to know them. I loved learning about where they previously lived. I enjoyed gathering information about the difference between their previous schools and our school. I recall learning about how sports in some communities were part of their curriculum and school day schedule. I also knew that many of them had never lived in a single place for a few years. At the same time, I lived in the same house my whole youth. I understood how some friends were raised by their grandparents, or they had both parents in their household or had no siblings. All different from my life, and they fascinated me.
I learned so much about others at a young age, and this thirst continued into my adulthood. However, the underlying interest in others had a foundation of wanting to learn more about myself. Where do I fit in the world? What experiences in my life can I contribute? What value do I offer? Am I unique? How can I improve? Whenever I would converse with someone where I found a difference, my exploratory questions would stem from my need to learn more about who I am. It is natural for humans to do this; we pull from our own life experiences and feelings to relate to others. To celebrate diversity, we have to be curious about who we are as individuals. Self-awareness is what allows us to want to see the diversity in the world.
Once we see the diversity in the world, we will seek it out more frequently. We will want to understand different perspectives and start to gather new ideas. Gathering new knowledge and insights can help us to become more self-aware. Have you ever heard the saying, “we don’t know what we don’t know?” By learning about others, we can understand what we don’t know and what information we may be lacking. This curiosity can fuel our appreciation for other experiences and viewpoints. Before you know it, you will be hooked. You will want to do all that you can to build more diverse groups of people to grow as a person; this is what helps organizations, communities, and people to thrive.