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creating inclusion

I’ve been thinking about inclusion, community, and tribes lately. I find that, unlike high school, as I get older I am more interested in the quality of my relationships than I am the quantity of friends that I collect. Don’t get me wrong, as an extravert I am a regular people junkie. But as I grow older, I have discovered that what I seek in relationships, in my  “tribe” is people who challenge me, in some way, either in my way of seeing the world, how I approach my writing or photography, in my political views, people who love me enough to challenge me to be more, to be true, people who give me depth. This is quite different from the days of gravitating towards those most like you. This requires an exit from the comfort zone in order to connect with people I historically wouldn't have thought to connect.
Consequently, creating inclusion requires me to be generous- not as a way of giving to the world, but as a way of being in the world. This type of generosity has little to do with giving stuff like money or other donations. I am talking about the type of generosity that gives people the freedom to be who they are, without conditions, value judgments or any other filter to sift them through.

For many, age and experience brings with it wisdom. Wisdom allows for us to make choices in our lives that are a reflection of who we are, truly, deep in the crevices. When we become secure with who and what we are, no longer making apologies for it, but instead we hold our heads high and with a confident nod that acknowledges to the world that this is me, then we release our grip on fears and our insecurities, freeing our hearts, souls and hands to be extended to others. When we become generous with ourselves first, accepting who we are without conditions, then we sit poised, positioned to reach out to others, ready to create inclusion. This gives me hope.

And how about you- what does inclusion mean to you