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Getting to Walk in Someone Else's Shoes

Something I'm so grateful for in this crazy life of mine is the people I've gotten to meet throughout my amazing journeys. I bring this up because when I started school, I don't think I met a single kid that was a lot like me. My mom and I talked about this in great depth when we were driving home together. My mom grew up around people who mostly shared the same life as her with not too many differences. When she finally entered life outside of New Jersey, she said she realized that so many people experience things she never got to experience and probably never will. This made me think of all the chances I got to meet people who weren't anything me.

Since I didn't start school in the country I was raised in, I was absolutely alienated from the people around me, without even realizing it. They spoke and lived differently than what I had been raised to know. Being so young, I didn't take any notice of it. Now that I'm older, I realize being surrounded by people who were different from me may have been the most important thing in my life.

The first school I went to that was in the states wasn't much different. I have an old scrapbook of kids who looked nothing like me, and some of them even spoke a language I didn't even understand. Being young, I didn't notice that these people were miles different than I was.

I held this idea in my head and carried it on to my next school. There weren't as many people who were completely different from me this time around, especially in appearance. Out of these people, there was a friend of mine who, on the surface, I probably could have never related to. She grew up with cerebral palsy, something that affected the way people viewed her. She was often isolated from others or had friends purely out of pity. Even though she grew up with something she wasn't any different from me. We both liked American dolls, musical theatre, and puppet shows. We became fast friends despite something that could've put us both in two separate worlds and lives.

I bring these two examples up because, being very young, these differences went by the waysides. I was so lucky to grow up around people who were completely unlike me or what I had grown up knowing and learning. I was able to see them for who they were as a person and nothing else. I was thrown into worlds that diverged from mine all the time, so seeing the different people that accompanied them from the beginning didn't phase me.

Even now, continuing to meet people from different backgrounds has shaped who I am and what I believe. No two people are the same, and being surrounded by so many different people allows you to love them, no matter the difference. I have such a deep appreciation for humanity because of the places I've gotten to see. I never would have even thought about the world in the ways I now do if my horizons weren't expanded from the beginning.

I think that I have been most blessed by the fact that from the start of my adventures, I've been able to know people who differ from me in appearance, personality, mindset, and background. Even though we were very different, I was able to find a way to meet them in the middle. I was able to form beautiful connections with people I might not have fully understood. We won't ever be able to fully understand people, even those we're close to, but we can walk in their shoes and travel with them in their journey.

Living the military life has allowed me to try on other people's shoes for size, learning, as I walked along, why the soles were worn.


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