“I wish someone had told me” is a series of posts that feed into our inquisitive nature at CN&CO. Each week we hear from someone in our network about something interesting or surprising that’s recently happened or occurred to them – or lessons they learnt. These blogs are a way to pay it forward and form part of CN&CO’s belief that the world can be a better place – and we all have a responsibility to make it so. This week’s post is by Rob.

A quick Google search of “world population” yields the fun estimate of 7.6 billion people. With all of that humanity around, you would be forgiven for thinking it was impossible to think anyone could be different from anyone else in the world. Yet as you read that comment your mind has already conjured up three people whom you can definitively identify as being different from you. Besides the fact that all three people might be from your family group, if you look around your current environment there are many different people. And too often there is a pressure from society to fit in.

Four same-same-but-different individuals

Embracing differences (or character traits/faults/weaknesses/whatever you want to call it) was highlighted during one of our many engaging Confab sessions where the wonderfully diverse Michelle Constant recounted stories from her life. Looking around the room, there were people from different backgrounds, fulfilling different roles for different reasons for different futures. And it was great. Diversity in whatever sense you define it really is an amazing concept when you stop to think about the 7.6 billion people drawing breath as you read this.

It takes time to embrace your differences, and part of that process is (un)fortunately dependant on time. But like any investment, it can only yield dividends when you are patient with the process. Growing up I did many different things. I played chess and cricket, read books and learnt magic tricks.  I joined the orchestra, directed a theatrical house play, lifted weights in the gym, played computer games and jammed in a band. I was a nerd amongst rubgy players, a jock with the musicians, cultured with boets klapping gym and any number of other contradictions in the social groups in which I mixed. I never excelled at any one activity to the point of perfection (is there such a thing anyway?) but I learnt that peoples’ differences are what make them worth knowing.

Some might say why…but why not?

Yes, Colin our word nerd may have an aneurysm reading something that could appear in a Buzz Feed article but I am grateful that along the way, my “differences” in the variety of social circles I was exposed to have made me who I am today. And I am comfortable in that I will never be the best at any one pursuit in particular, but what I have become good at is relating to a wide variety of people, some of whom which are still struggling to accept their own differences.

We are all different, we are all the same, we all have struggles and triumphs in life. Yet what truly matters is our ability to relate to another human and make them feel accepted, despite the “differences” they might have. Life is too short to worry about how the world perceives you, so be boisterous, pensive, physical, intellectual, dynamic, long-haired, tattoo’d, a fitness fanatic or whatever blows your hair back. Remember that at the end of the day, the only person who really cares about how society perceives you, is you.

Now listen to the kiff beat below and bump that view counter above 105,106,805.