“Traveling the world is one of the greatest things you can ever do for yourself. It will shatter all illusions, stereotypes, and notions you have of the world and the people in it. You will unlearn, learn, and relearn things you will never discover through a book, a classroom, or a degree. It will humble you, shake you, wake you up. It will seep into your pores and find its way to your heart, and it will find it fast. The veil over your vision will come off and you will experience things that fringe over magic. And you will never ever be the same again in the best way possible. So do yourself a favor, and just buy that d**n plane ticket.” ~ Satori
By the age of 17, I had lived in five different countries and four different continents. Several words even though they sound the same mean two different things and invoke two different emotions. You know them?
My point is I’m a minority everywhere I go even in my passport country but when faced with the option of celebrating my difference or conforming to what was considered the norm, I chose to celebrate my difference and I haven’t looked back since.
You see growing up everywhere the way I did, I initially had an identity crisis. You know. Who am I?
Why am I not like them?
Why is my accent different?
But I came to realize that there is true beauty in our world. I also came to realize that even though the world is full of differences, many of us use these differences to drive people apart. With this realization, all of a sudden I had a sense of purpose. I saw my identity crisis as a gift. I saw my difference as an opportunity to show the world that there is beauty in having the mindset of a nomad. Not only in the way it opens our minds but also in the perspectives it gives us.
Many of today’s world’s problems today are caused because of people’s unwillingness to accept change whether it’s race, religion or ethnic background. Why can’t we use OUR DIFFERENCES to make a DIFFERENCE.”
I believe there are 3 ways we can do this. It’s what I like to call the DBC. The first way is to
Defeat the Supposed to Syndrome- What is the “supposed to syndrome”? It’s the idea that you’re supposed to be a certain way because a certain tradition and culture dictates that. Ascribing to this notion doesn’t allow you to maximize your potential and impact that you could make because you will be constantly living up to someone’s expectation. One thing you have to understand as someone who identifies with several cultures is that you are not supposed to be a certain way. The very design of your background is constant change so embrace that and allow your experiences to take you away. Understand that being different is ok and necessary for you to find your place because after all, isn’t it so much easier to be yourself as opposed to trying to be like one the other 7 billion people. That’s just exhausting.
Be YOU because you can…
Break down the Berlin Walls that exist in today’s world- Much like the Berlin Wall was put up by the then Soviets in 1961 to prevent East Germans from fleeing to West Germany, we have Berlin walls that exist today and they are everywhere. They manifest themselves in concepts like stereotypes.
Stereotyping is the laziest way to understand culture because it makes assumptions on who you are and what you do without actually knowing who you are and what you do.
We need to use our innate curiosity to educate and dispel stereotypes. Let’s build bridge cultural gaps, foster empathy and truly show the world how to communicate across boundaries. Let’s connect.
Connect in a Digital World- Speaking of connecting. Nothing speaks to how global we have become like the Internet. I built my business by connecting with like-minded people over the Internet. It started with a blog, then using #TCK, #GlobalNomad, and #ThirdCultureKids to start conversations with like-minded people on Twitter before subsequently creating a platform for people to share their stories. My content was able to form some sort of connection with people and two of them ended up becoming business partners of mine. The Internet gives you a voice and power that was not available 15 years ago. It cuts the middleman and allows you to deliver unfiltered stories so go out and start a blog, host a webinar or podcast, launch a course. You never know whom you will connect with.
Defeat the supposed to syndrome
Break down the Berlin Walls that exist in today’s society.
Connect In the digital world we live today.
As I close today, i’m reminded of this quote from Robert Frost
“I shall be telling this with a sigh somewhere ages and ages hence: Two roads diverged in a wood, and I – I took the one less travelled by, and that has made all the difference.” ~ Robert Frost
Go out and take your place as the next diplomats, educators and leaders. It’s time for the us to use our DIFFERENCE to make a DIFFERENCE.