Love Month – February 5

I love inclusion.

Often in this world it seems like we want to separate into “us” and “them”. It makes us feel like we belong. But what about if you are “them”?

I’m an introvert who often acts like an extrovert. I’ve also got a shy side that I try to keep hidden. It’s been a lifelong struggle. I like people – I really do. But often people and social situations give me incredible anxiety.

I suspect it is the same for you, whether you have my issues or not. We all want to belong, and yet we often shut other people out doing just that.

There are times I realize my own insecurities are making me hide away with my “comfy people.” I just can’t bring myself to move outside of my circle. (Sometimes that circle is simply me, if the truth be known.)

I usually want to know people and include them. I often struggle with how. I hate small talk, and while I have developed some necessary skills, I fail miserably at it often.

I love people who are not like me. I enjoy picking their brain and finding out their story. I want to know what they think and why, and what drove them to that place.

But there are so many barriers that keep that from happening in my life. Often the major barrier is me not reaching out and drawing them into the circle. It’s a move that’s not often in my comfort zone.

Yet I believe in the power of inclusion. Great things happen when we expand our circle and add another place at the table. I watch people who do this well and I am resolved to hang out with them more. If I can’t do it well, I can be part of their team.

Most of us have felt left out on occasion. Sometimes it was intentional, and other times it just felt that way. I’ve been trying to figure out which is which lately. I am a people watcher and there are ample opportunities to see it in action.

As a single person, I walk into a lot of rooms by myself. I’m 59-years old. It never gets easier. Usually I am fine once I get settled. But until then, I feel out of sorts.

But most of these rooms are places where I fit in. I’m like a lot of the people in there. I’m dressed the same, look somewhat the same, and share a lot of the same background.

On occasion I force myself into a situation where I am not similar to the rest. Another layer is added to the fear. Often I adopt the idea of the “invisibility cloak.” I imagine that no one notices I am there. Sometimes it seems to be the truth. Other times someone reaches beneath the cloak and pulls me out to be a part of things. It’s amazing how it feels when that happens.

I want to be that person. I want to make the invisible known. I don’t want anyone to feel they are outside the circle. Adding them in makes it stronger and us all richer.

Let’s notice those who sit outside the circle. Invite them in. It may take a couple of times before they join, and a bit of ingenuity on your part, because some of us have built some big walls. Sometimes the fear paralyzes and it’s easier to go it alone.

I love inclusion, because it is a small gift of hospitality that completely changes our world and its people.

“Let us not act out of fear and misunderstanding, but out of the values of inclusion, diversity, and regard for all that make our country great.” – Loretta Lynch