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  • Writer's pictureAbbie VanMeter

Difference and Sameness | Daily Mindful Moment #18

In what ways are you different from others? In what ways are you the same?

As I prepare to record a conversation with one of the CMM Institute's Board of Stewards, Sergej, where we will be reflecting on my conversations with Stephanie Higgs and Chris Wells and Emma Nicholson, I keep returning to the relationship between difference and sameness.

Stephanie first talked about "differentiation" as a process she goes through to make individualized learning plans for her gifted students and students with different needs or learning styles. In my conversation with Chris and Emma, Chris very early on mentioned that growing up she knew something was different about her, and because something was different she thought that meant something was wrong with her. Emma also shared the response that they have received upon making their podcast (The Positive Disintegration Podcast), which was overwhelming that people listening were so happy to finally know that they weren't alone.

I see differences and sameness as two sides of the same coin. I also think we need both and can celebrate both in our lives.

Why is it that Chris associated being different with being wrong? My best educated guess is that it had a lot to do with society helping Chris make that connection as a kid. Part of my vision for a better social world is one where we celebrate and embrace our differences and uniqueness, that no one would feel unsafe telling the stories that mark them as being different from others.

As Emma said, when she and Chris started talking about their experience with seeing themselves as different through their labels of "giftedness," the reaction was for people to say, "Wow! Me too!"

Isn't that interesting that even in our differences we can find sameness? Maybe not all their listeners experienced the same differences that Chris and Emma did (not even Chris and Emma experienced growing up giftedness in the same way). But that really doesn't seem to matter. We can find community and support when we share our differences, our different needs, different ways of being in the world, and different feelings or ideas.

When we say, "Hello world. I am Abbie and I am different." We give other people permission to do the same. Even if they have a different difference, it still works.

How in your life can you create more community and connection by being honest about your unique ways of being? How can we begin to deconstruct the narratives we have around sameness and assimilation being the top value? How can we create a social world that makes it safe to be different in any kind of way?

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