Monday, October 26, 2015

A Lesson in Social Sensitiviity

Hello My name is Jacqueline. I'm just an average mom and military wife. I enjoy reading and being creative. But you wouldn't know any of that unless I told you right? What have I not mentioned....hmmm oh yeah there is something about me that is pretty obvious I guess right? Its what you think when you first see me. Its the trait that stands out so much that its impossible to hide or not notice? What I am talking about beautiful blonde hair! Oh wait that's not it....what is it again...I hardly notice it myself. Ok you tell me....what is it?

Yes, I am very tall. I also have pretty large feet and hands. But these are not things that I choose to talk about usually because I have no need to. You see them right away. I can't hide them. I can't do anything about how I look. No one can. So a bit of social sensitivity needs to take place. You need to respect the differences, as well as, the similarities.

Sensitivity is when you consider a person's feelings.  I am not going to lecture about bullying and meanness. We all know about that already. What I want to focus on is the act of pointing out differences and controlling what we say day to day. We are all different. There are some of us who are different inside and some who are different outside. There are also some people who's differences are more obvious than others or considered more strange. That does not mean you should voice these things out loud or call attention to them.

Humans are very social. When we see something new or different we like to share it, but in doing this you can hurt someone's feelings. For example, a few weeks ago I was visiting my daughter's school for the first time and as I was walking down the hall a few students passed me while staring. As I turned the corner I could hear them commenting on my height. This is normal for me. Making a comment is natural, but do you think they were considering my feelings or thinking about whether or not I could hear them? They were whispering so they must know me hearing it could hurt my feelings yet they still did it. Children have a harder time controlling their mouths and actions. What is really frustrating for me is the adults who behave the same.

Here's an example of how it might feel to be in my shoes.Say we were living in a place where blue eyes were never seen. You are one of the few that had them. Imagine every day feeling someone stare at you, having someone come up to you and mention how odd it is(can you see farther, or better because they are blue), having very few people around who can understand how you feel, and imagine that it is expected of you to just accept this behavior from others. How does it make you feel?

It would be nice if before people make a comment about someone they think about why they look or act the way they do. That one comment might cause someone to have a good day or bad day. It is a choice whether to be polite and positive or rude and negative towards others.

I am tall because of a medical condition called Marfan Syndrome. This condition has an effect on how you grow as you get older. Ever had growing pains....I had them very frequently all the way up until I was 18. I was 5'11 in middle school and by the end of high school I was 6'1. I was always the tallest kid in the back row when lining up for pictures, back of the class so that I didn't block the other student's views, and at the end of the line when going anywhere...they used to line us up by height back then. Throughout school my height was a big factor for me being teased. Being a girl and tall seemed to make it worse. Why is this? Because girls being tall is even less common, which only added to my differences.

So I have gone through life having other students make mean comments or pick on me at school and when I was out at stores or doing things in public I had complete strangers staring and coming up to me asking me if I played basketball, volleyball, or asking me how tall was I. The thing I hear most often though is this....You are so tall.....Think about how I would feel? I have my differences pointed out to me daily. How hard do you think it is for me to feel confident when this happens? Would you feel confident or good about yourself? How would you react to these things happening to you? I have prepared answers or silly things I have come up with to respond with in order to deal with it. I have heard these so many times that I say the same things...I am always ready to answer back now. Say someone says "You are so tall" I would say "I am???" or "Yep I am." Because it is expected for me to say something but what do you say when someone says that to you?

What I want to convey on this subject is that I hope the children and parents in this world learn to be more considerate and careful. Instead of pointing out the differences think about that person's feelings. Yes you are going to notice someone who is tall or short or big or small. You are going to notice if they look differently than what you are used to but you don't have to make a comment or say anything about it. You don't have to make it known. If you noticed it you don't have to tell your friend because chances are they definitely noticed it too. You also shouldn't think its weird...someone being different isn't weird..its unique. We all have things about us that make us unique. Certain people are just more noticeably so.

Being socially sensitive will not only make you a better person but will also help you when interacting with others. Learning how to accept others will help you accept yourself as well. When you are kind and understanding you are making your life a happier one, filled with friends and good relationships. You are more capable of working with many different people from different backgrounds and you are better equipped to go out into the world.

Thanks for seeing my side of this situation. Thanks for having an open mind and heart...

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