Do you know what I like best about my friends? I like that they are completely and uniquely them. They’re totally honest and genuine about who they are and don’t feel the need to apologize for it. But if the average person were to look at my friends, there are probably some people who they wouldn’t expect to be in that lineup because of how they see me. And what they expect of me.
My friends come in a wide assortment of ages, races, sexual orientations, genders, educational backgrounds and socio-economic statuses. I have friends that are college graduates and some that are college dropouts; some that are Caucasian, African-American, Hispanic, Asian, or some awesomely crazy blended mix of everything; some that love sports, others that prefer musical theater, and even more who would rather read a book above all else. I have some friends that go to church, some that are more “spiritual” than “religious”, and some that are just trying to figure out what the heck is going on in the world. The list can go on and on, but in the end, they’re my friends.
I can think of people that I have encountered over the past few years that have “cookie-cutter” friends and realized how that could have (and for many reasons, should have) been me and how thankful I am to have met and befriended many of the people that I have. Let me start by defining what I mean by “cookie-cutter” friends. When I use that term, I am referring to those people who may look different than you (i.e. race, gender, physical features), but for all intensive purposes dress, think, act, and speak the same way you do and rarely challenge you to step out of your preconceived notions about the world and to look at things differently.
My friends are the complete opposite. They challenge me to look beyond my slightly above-middle class, raised in the valley, conservative, pastor’s kid who graduated for a Christian university and is going into ministry-life and see the world through their eyes. Do you, dear reader, have those people in your life?
All that to say, I had a conversation with someone yesterday that caused to figure out why my friends are so vast and varied. Because I choose to defy people’s expectations… I refuse to live in a cookie-cutter world where everyone thinks and acts the same! Now, don’t get me wrong, I’m not an anarchist, but I do think that the world is so much more interesting if we’re allowed to embrace our flaws and love people for who they are, not for what they can do for us. In theory, all of my friends should be overprotected pastor’s kids with entitlement issues who are constantly trying to define who they are outside of their parent’s shadow. Harsh? Maybe. But that is, in theory, the category that I should fall into. Do I? Not anymore.
Prior to my sophomore year in college, most of the people that I consider friends now, I would have ignored because they didn’t fit into my idea of what I wanted my friends to be. I could have easily fit into my cookie-cutter life and missed out on all the awesome people that I’ve met and all of the fun experiences that I’ve lived through.
We generally have expectations of who people should be based on our first impressions – a look, a conversation, an assumption. I can say from experience, that isn’t always a good thing. Get to know the person before you decide whether or not they’re worthy of your time… they could surprise you. Or disappoint you. Either way, don’t live subjected to what you think you are defined as. Be your own person! Make your own friends! Experience life for the beautiful cornucopia of differences that it is! (That was a little bit cheesy, sorry. =])