My wife and I are almost completely opposite people. We’ve known this since the first time we met. It’s almost hard to quantify that we came together because I’m an extreme extrovert and she’s a rational introvert. We were volunteers with Young Friends of the Zoo at the Cincinnati Zoo. I came to one meeting and volunteered to chair the group’s annual fundraiser. It didn’t seem too out of reach. The other volunteers were both grateful someone stepped up and shocked that I would ask to lead after just attending one meeting.
I tried to meet every. single. person at each monthly meeting to get to know them and encourage them to join in to pull off the fundraiser – The Beastly Ball. It was a costume party that happened around Halloween each year. My future wife was so put off by my overtness, she walked around the perimeter of the meeting space to avoid me.
As volunteers, we met offsite at a warehouse to design, create and build the massive decorations and sets for the ball. We transformed an empty industrial space into an Egyptian tomb. One evening as I was walking around to each group of people to thank them for coming and pitching in, Debbie stopped me and asked me what I was doing over the weekend. I replied, “Nothing.” She quickly asked, “Want to do ‘nothing’ together?” I was so startled that she took this bold step, and I was intrigued. I said, “That would be great.” It was the best decision I’ve ever made over 36 years ago !! (BTW – Our first date was going to see the epic movie – The Princess Bride.)
Fast forward to the present day . . .
Just recently Debbie had a total knee replacement. Everything went well and she’s been recovering magnificently. As one who cherishes abiding by the rules and valuing structure, she’s the perfect patient. Now that things have been progressing, we took advice from our daughter who’s an Occupational Therapist to go mall walking. We’re also old enough now that mall walking isn’t out of the norm !!
Debbie went walking a few times during the day while I was at work. She asked me to start walking with her, and I needed to have a way to be more consistent in making sure I stayed healthy. I was geeked to join in. I went a few times on my own to get the feel for it.
The first time we went to the mall as a couple we entered through the set of double doors and were set to go – she started walking to the right and I went to the left. We took a few steps and paused. She said, “I like to go this way,” showing the path she had followed the few times she went without me. I explained that I was following the path I liked. We shrugged our shoulders and then commenced to walk in opposite directions. It fits us perfectly.
I share this because if we truly want to value diversity, inclusion, equity, and belonging then we need to come to terms that none of us are the same. And, we shouldn’t be. It’s okay to be opposites and still be connected to each other on purpose. So, embrace your uniqueness and be cool with who you are AND who others are. It works !!