Growing up in Iran left me with an incorrect definition of the word “Connection”. As a kid born after the revolution I had to hide all my life stories from my classmates unless they were like-minded. I have never noticed the disadvantages of growing up and living in a bubble. A bubble which was not a choice but a must.
I studied at a public university where I had a great opportunity to connect to various mindsets. But no, that was not my mission. I only searched again for the like-minded students to hang out with.
Right after my graduation I moved to Canada. I started a master’s degree in a university where more than half of the kids were coming from abroad. I met new people and made some friends but they always lost their priorities to the Iranian community. The Iranian people I knew were not even like-minded. We only shared the same language. But as a new comer I was searching for similarities to build trust and differences didn’t amaze me. So, language played an important role in my connections. The same trend continued during my professional life as an engineer. The funny part is that I was always being acknowledged for having communicational skills. But only I was aware of that huge guard inside me to assure that I would not cross the vulnerability line.
When I decided to change my career I didn’t have a choice but to embrace curiosity and connection. I had to learn and everyone could be a teacher for me. I exposed myself to different communities, different events and different people. And after a year of reflecting on the concept of connection I concluded some points:
Like-minded people have similar opinions and interests about a specific subject. My family and I are like-minded when it comes to values and definitions. We grew up together. But there are tons of areas in which we disagree and have different beliefs. Are we like-minded? For some subjects yes and for others No. I am part of different communities where we have similarities for a specific subject. but we have so many differences on other aspects of life.
There are two places in Montreal that beat every other resto or Cafe for diversity of clients. People who go to these places are different from each other. But they are all like-minded when it comes to a good coffee, fun food and an amazing vibe!
Why should I see like-minded people? The first year of my journey to find my passion and to define my lifestyle has been the most fulfilling year for learning and connecting. And if I want to summarize it in one word, the word is definitely DIVERSITY. When I talk to like-minded people I am barely challenged to justify what I believe in. Because we all have similar mindsets. But the same conversation with unlike-minded people opens the door for a new experience and learning opportunities.
Those who see the difference can make the difference. When I worked as an engineer I didn’t have any time and energy to connect and take part in different events. But as of last year when I thought of change I started to look around to find different events in town. I never checked meet ups to find an interesting subject and I never attended a random meeting. But I learnt this amazing skill and habit during the last year and I am extremely grateful for it. There are some amazing people out there thirsty to connect, to learn and to hear different voices. And if there is any change to be made I believe it will be from these people. The ones who keep their hearts open to learn and to listen without judgment.
I am starting a new project which mainly focuses on stimulating conversations and raising awareness. And I am looking at these lovely people as my role models. They are teaching me to be engaged, to invite diversity and to respect the differences. And I am learning slowly to break my bubble and experience vulnerability and compassion.