Recently, a friend told me that we are very different and it is a strain on the friendship. We come from very different backgrounds and have totally different careers. Actually career differences are common for my friends; none of them are healing mediums. But, I saw the differences between us as growth opportunities–exposures to new situations from which I could learn and become more well-rounded as a person. My friend learned things that I knew nothing about and had experiences that I didn’t have in life. Rather than viewing the differences as challenges, I saw them as things that could make me a better person.
When I was sixteen, I went on a retreat with my high school. I don’t remember a whole lot about it but I do recall the second day there. I got dressed and came out of my dorm room. When I looked around I realized all the girls there were wearing the same Benneton brand clothing. Although some of us had different colors on, all our shirts had the brand written across our chests, as if we were walking poster boards for the company. I remember thinking, “Wow, we are all the same; this is weird and I don’t like it.” So at that age, I set my mind to do things differently from my friends. I wanted to find out who I was without the influence of my environment.
The following year, as many of you may know from my first book, Discovering the Medium Within, I went to a Catholic all girls college not by my choice but that of my parents because the school gave me a lot of scholarship money. None of my friends attended the school and I was completely on my own in Baltimore. It turned out to be a great experience because I learned a lot about myself–what I liked and disliked and who I was on the inside without the external influence of others.
About a year ago, I had a conversation at bed time with Briella, who was age seven. At I ran my fingertips gently up and down her arm, she asked, “Mommy, why do you think God made everyone different?” I immediately answered, “Because everyone has different jobs on Earth, so they need different traits to be able to do those jobs and help others.” She tuned her head a faced me and said, “Maybe that’s one reason. But if everyone is the same as me and looks like me and does all the same things as me, then none of us would ever learn and grow because you can’t learn and grow when everything is the same. Maybe God made us all different, so we can learn and grow from each other.” Clearly, I wished I would have though of that deeply insightful answer and I admired the wisdom in the little old soul resting next to me. “Yes, your answer is very wise; we can never learn and grow when things are always the same.” She smiled and rolled over as I softly massaged her back, until she drifted off to sleep. I was grateful to have this little soul as my teacher on this Earth.
Briella demonstrated what I had learned at age sixteen. Different is good; it helps us see other parts of life that we might not ordinarily be exposed to. Differences should be celebrated as opportunities for growth and personal development. When you find someone who is different, you can run away because it scares you and perhaps forces you out of your comfort zone, or you can embrace everything about that person and recognize he is there to help you in new ways. I welcome different experiences and people into my life. One of my goals is to travel the world with my children, so we can meet people from other cultures, see how they live, and learn about them. I don’t ever want to stay where things are totally the same. I always want to grow and become better and learn from others. In my eyes, different will always be welcome and positive.