Coming Out

orange and and brown chess pieces

From the desk of Teresa Jordan, Executive Director – I am reading the book ‘Becoming – Michelle Obama’ and, so far, I am completely entranced by her writing style and her reflections on her own, rather ordinary life – up to a point. The author’s description of going to university and being a visible minority – like about only 3% of the student population – really stood out for me. Obama tells many great anecdotes about the Third World Centre and refers often to the number of black students that gathered there. She describes the natural tendency to seek each other out when so heavily outnumbered, a gravitational pull to the known and the familiar.

I think this requires some more thought. I read somewhere that our brain is hardwired to seek out the familiar for safety in the times we spent in caves so long ago. I think this hardwired tendency means that, on auto pilot, we will keep clumping up with our ‘own kind’. We relax into the banter of familiar topics with people of familiar backgrounds that eat, do, play and travel in places that are familiar to us.

But while this is happening, what are we missing? Who are we missing? I think, maybe, that the first step is to simply to acknowledge and declare that, without effort, I will consistently avoid those I see as ‘other…’ and then follow that up with a promise to ourselves to seek out a new and different experience, or point of view, or life experience, and see how it feels, sounds, tastes … to find what hidden joys the ‘other’ may bring. Venture out a little beyond your tribe’s cave, and who knows what riches await!

Photo by Markus Spiske on


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