I recently came across an F. Scott Fitzgerald quote that I fell in love with. It goes as follows:

While I agree with all of this advice, the part that stuck out to me was “I hope you meet people who have a different point of view.” How often has someone given you that advice? How often have you actually sought out finding someone with different opinions, values, passions and lifestyles than yours? You’re probably quick to jump on board and say oh yeah, I do that. I beg to differ.

Psychological studies have actually proven that people subconsciously attract friends into their lives that have similar perspective or lifestyles to theirs, because it makes them feel comfortable with their own choices and beliefs. It solidifies them, if you will. People can sit in the bubbles they’ve formed and tell themselves that everything they believe, say and do is correct.

Well guess what? There is little black and white. There is mostly gray. Like Nietzsche once said, “You have your way. I have my way. As for the right way, the correct way, and the only way, it does not exist.”

Can you imagine for a moment how different our world would be if that were how people thought all the time?! Religious wars would end. Political wars would end. Relationship battles would end! Of course, that’s only if no one is getting hurt. If a husband is beating his wife, or a country is collectively raping their women, that’s black and white. That’s wrong.

But if no one is getting hurt, why can’t people just stop and take the time to learn and understand another person’s perspective rather than write it off as wrong, just because it’s different than theirs?

I’ve had a lot of experience with this lately. I’ve been active in the dating world for a good six months now, and from this experience, I have met and/or talked to all types of people. I’ve met guys from other countries, with experiences that I could never fathom, having had the privilege to grow up in America. I’ve talked to guys with jobs all over the board, from 9 to 5ers, to business owners, to military members, to unemployed. I’ve met guys who are avid Christians, and guys who are hardcore atheists. I’ve met guys who see their families daily, and guys who haven’t talked to their families in years. I’ve talked to guys who haven’t been out of the state of Illinois, and guys who have traveled the world and are practically nomads.

I have to admit, I’ve loved this experience! I find it fascinating to hear other people’s stories, experiences and perspectives, and this is especially true if they are very different from mine. Those are the ones that are most interesting, because I’m learning and growing as a person. That’s what Fitzgerald was talking about. He was saying, reach out of your comfort zone and get to know people who will make you question everything.

Because where do our perspectives come from, really? Every perspective comes from how someone was brought up, who they were surrounded by, and what experiences they endured. That is how every perspective is formed! That is why you cannot judge someone for theirs, even if it seems wrong to you. You haven’t lived their life or experienced what they have. You only have your own experience. But that is what makes life so interesting!

So why is it that so many people cannot handle a perspective other than their own? Why do people scream and shout until blood is shed, or until someone unfriends the other on Facebook, because someone’s opinion is different from theirs? Why do some people refuse to date someone, or even be their friend, because their lifestyle is different from theirs? Have you ever spent time with someone just like yourself? I have, and I find that it gets dull really fast! That person can’t teach you anything!

Unfortunately, though, I’ve come into contact with quite a few people who enjoy living in their safety bubbles. In the dating world, I had one guy tell me he could never date a girl that doesn’t drink. It’s too boring for him. I had another guy tell me that he’d be too embarrassed to dine out with me, because of my dietary restrictions, and that he wants to be able to eat anywhere he wants. I had another tell me that I wouldn’t get along with his friends, so that was a no go. One even told me I should be locked up because of how crazy my spiritual beliefs are. That one still gets me laughing!

Dining out wherever you want to go… is that what matters most in the grand scheme of things? From this side of the glass, I am realizing how unfair it is to judge someone else. They don’t know who I was before I gave up gluten, or how much I used to drink until I was blacked out every weekend, or how confused I was over what to believe spiritually. They only see me right now, and they judge, and they go out looking for someone who perfectly fits their criteria. They learn nothing, and therefore they are back on the dating sites in no time, or divorced, or cheating, or bored to tears, or single forever.

Maybe this is karma, because I used to judge people harshly when they didn’t fit my criteria, too. But every relationship is a mirror of yourself, so really, their judgments of me have nothing to do with me and everything to do with them and their own insecurities, fears and limits. I realize that now.

My advice to you is to seek out people who are different than you. Even if it’s just for a cup of coffee, or for one online discussion. Hear a person out without judging or arguing. Learn their background and life story. Try to understand where they are coming from, and why. You’ll find conversations and humans and life to be so much more fascinating!

And, one person at a time, we’ll make the world a more peaceful place to live and to be yourself in. So be yourself. Everyone else is taken.