The world is bigger and also smaller than we thought. A disease that started on one end of the world has spread and decimated populations across the globe. Aside from the many ramifications, one thing has been made very clear: There is so much more to the world we live in than we thought we knew.
There are hidden marginalized people within our communities and high-risk individuals we befriended with that we have no idea of how they live every day. People who do not have the technological ability or access to products to succeed or even sustain in the new normal the world has embraced.
Now that all these are coming to light, more people are looking for ways to open up their horizons and be a good ally. It is not difficult to be an open and accepting person. It requires a willingness to learn and a desire to participate in a world you are discovering. There are so many ways to embrace this new world. Volunteer at soup kitchens, counsel displaced youth, or participate in medical research surveys like for hemophilia. Whatever you choose, let it come from a place within you that yearns to be better connected to the surrounding community.
Let Curiosity Lead You
The best way to learn about something new is to indulge any curiosity you have about it. Approach the subject from the angle that first brought your attention to it. Then expand your information base. If you are shy to talk to someone within a community, then there are resources online that you can read and watch first. This will allow you to learn the most respectful and accepting way to approach the community. For example, if you are trying to participate in your local autism community, they will appreciate it if you already have a basic understanding so you can react appropriately.
Make Sure You Have the Right Information
Read whatever you can find that has been written by members of the group. Keep in mind that everything has people who disagree with it. Therefore, you will come across opinion pieces by people who want to tear down the community you are learning about. But try to see both sides and evaluate based on your own observations.
Joining an online community group can also help you to understand the actual lived experiences of people within that community. Someone who lives with the reality will be a better source of information than someone who has simply observed and formed an opinion.
Your Environment Limits or Expands Your Horizons
The people around you inform a lot of your opinions and choices. If your friends and co-workers are not curious people who are interested in expanding their horizons, you are unlikely to receive a lot of new perspectives from them. This is not always a bad thing. Some people enjoy their lives within their circle and travel for them is only for relaxation.
If you find that you are dissatisfied and you want to be around more diverse people, then you must find them. The input and involvement of other people is the best way to find the way you want to live your life. A sense of dissatisfaction usually comes from a lack of purpose. Thus, you must prioritize finding the people who can help you to clarify your journey towards finding your purpose.
Find the Right People
Getting involved in marginalized groups in your home town will allow you to meet more people like you. Befriend them and begin spending time with them socially. They will be able to introduce you to others who also feel a need to connect to others and explore diversity and differences.
These are the people who travel to broaden their minds and learn more about the larger world. If you are shy to approach people and request friendships, then you can join groups where these social groups already exist. There are many organizations that bring together diverse groups of people from around the world to do socially involved activities. Habitat for Humanity and Red Cross Volunteers are organizations that will give you opportunities to make connections globally.
The most important thing you can bring to this journey is resilience. It will teach you that, but you must be sure that you have the backbone to embrace this difficult journey. Working with people who are disabled or homeless will bring you into many situations that are painful. But you must be able to weather these situations and keep going. You must understand that your discomfort and pain is secondary to that of the people who live that life every day.
They are not there to make you feel better. You are not volunteering to make yourself feel better. You are giving back because you understand that you are part of a larger world. This is humbling and can be jarring for someone who is starting out on the path to broadening their horizons. Be resilient, because the journey is worth it. You will be tested, but you will also become your best self.