My whole life, I never quite fit in.
I was always just a little different.
Not so different that nobody wanted to be friends with me. Not so different that I felt excessively entitled or self-righteously appointed. But different enough to feel like an alien wherever I went.
And then I moved to Portland.
The city where different is the default.
Everybody fits in – because nobody fits in. It’s so fantastically unique, so delightfully weird and so endearingly eclectic, that you can’t help but acknowledge and applaud people’s differences.
The place is so weird, I almost felt normal. That says a lot.
I remember my first day. I was riding the bus when a guy asked, “You’re not from around here, are you Scott?”
“How did you guess?”
“Nobody uses umbrellas here. When it rains, we either celebrate it or ignore it.”
That’s when I said to myself: “These are my people.”
I fell in love with the city. Had some of the greatest times of my life. Made lifelong friends I’ll never forget. And learned lessons that changed me forever. And although I only spent fourteen months there, the spirit of Portland will always remain under my fingernails.
You have to understand, I grew up in suburban St. Louis. I went to college in rural Ohio. So it was a nice change of posture to live in a community where accepting people’s differences is a given – but celebrating them is the gift.
Can you imagine if more places adopted that mentality?
Can you imagine if we stopped holding ourselves hostage by our intolerance?
Sadly, our society still operates on the outdated, close-minded cliché that the nail that sticks up should be hammered down. That being different is the enemy.
I don’t care how open we claim to be: We still actively avoid contact with people who are not like us because of a fear of social contamination.
It’s time to adopt a different philosophy about being different.
Not only that it’s acceptable – but also that it’s encouraged and edified.
LET ME ASK YA THIS…
How do you put yourself on equal footing with the people around you?
LET ME SUGGEST THIS…
For the list called, “31 Questions to Test Your Listening Skills” send an email to me, and you win the list for free!
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That Guy with the Nametag
Author, Speaker, Publisher, Artist, Mentor
Now booking for 2011-2012!
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