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We’re more Similar than Different

Posted by Didi Gorman on

Did you know that every thought, feeling, emotion, idea, inkling, and experience you have, has already been thought/felt/experienced by someone else, somewhere, at some point?

Intriguing, isn’t it? Let it sink in for a minute.

Given the sheer number of humans on the face of our planet, it stands to reason that even our most unusual thoughts, complex feelings, and those experiences we deem unique, are mere permutations of larger underlying realities, shared in different variations by many other people out there.

Still perplexing? Let’s have a look at a few concrete examples to make it a little clearer. Is stage fright something you’re familiar with? Or a disagreement with a friend? Being hurt by an insensitive comment made at you? Saying something you regretted later on?

If any of the above sound familiar, you’re not alone.

A few more universal realities that may ring a bell: feeling rejected or not included, being jealous of a friend’s success, feeling hurt when someone is indifferent to you, having a bad day at work, being embarrassed, committing a ‘faux pas’, misunderstanding someone, being misunderstood, the white coat syndrome, being panicked by something really trivial, feeling insecure, winter blues, unreciprocated love, hurting someone unintentionally. We could go on and on but I believe you get the drift.

Let’s take it a step further in our thought-experiment and consider the following: There’s a fair chance you’ll encounter a stranger with whom, on the face of it, you have very little in common, but whose story, on a closer look, resembles your own. This is precisely what happened to me this past week at a get-together with a group of friends. And it’s also the inspiration for this post.

Among the guests was this young man with a story that caught my attention due to a remarkable similarity between the details of his story and my own experience. Both of our cases had to do with not fitting in with a group of people we had hoped to become part of.

Without getting into the particulars, the resemblance of our realities took me by surprise. Here was this person from another country, from a different age group, and with a completely different social background, and yet, his reality mirrored my own. What were the odds? The conversation that ensued between us following this revelation was like the rediscovery of a long-lost relative. By the end of the evening this person –a mere stranger just a couple of hours before– had become a new friend. How unlikely this outcome would have seemed earlier. And still, here we were, delighting in each other’s company.

This was my story. Now you. Perhaps you too, as you’re reading these lines, realize you may share unexpected similarities with somebody else, who, at least on the surface, has very little in common with you.

By Didi Gorman