Did you grow up watching one of those kids’ shows that feature a very different, but tight, group of friends?
Maybe it’s because I watched too many of these shows, but I’ve always wanted a group of friends like that: diverse in gender, race, ability, interests, etc. But in real life, most of my friends are a lot like me. We have similar cultural backgrounds and socio-economic statuses. And my closest friends are all female.
It’s not like I can’t mingle with different people. I have plenty of casual friends and acquaintances who are European, African, Asian, Middle Eastern, male, female, gay, straight, poor, rich. But we’re not friends like the Weekenders…
To be honest, I feel kind of guilty about this. I know it’s not a big issue, but I feel that, as a Canadian, I need more diverse friends or something. Like it’s a requirement to satisfy some diversity requirement in your friend group, the same reason why it’s a requirement in some Canadian education programs and governmental groups. And all around us in this modern world we’re being encouraged by our educators and government to reach out of our little circles. We’re encouraged to intermingle with everyone, from the homeless man in the inner-city to the new immigrants next door.
Of course, I know it’s illogical to expect someone to be friends with everybody. I mean, you have a finite amount of people you can physically keep track of, and we just naturally band with people who are like us, who have had similar experiences.
Maybe I’ll always have a pretty homogenous group of friends at my side, and I can’t really change that. (It’s impossible to force yourself to be friends with someone). But I believe in treating everyone I meet, no matter who they are, with the same degree of respect I grant friends from my background. That means treating a homeless person in the inner-city to a pleasant, polite conversation without a patronizing tone. Same goes with a person with intellectual disabilities or mental illness. It also means not making someone’s accent a big deal, or his or her sexual orientation.
Do you have diverse friends? Do you find it easy to befriend people with a different background?