Let’s Not Marginalize People Who Had Happy Childhoods
There is value in diverse stories. We need to respect and learn from everyone's experiences, including those who had happy childhoods.
“I think I’m too boring for others to find me interesting. That’s why I don’t open up with you. You have a more interesting life story.”
I couldn’t believe my ears. I was having lunch with my teammate (who happens to be a person of color) and I was trying to learn more about her growing up years. She described it as happy, uneventful, no devastating events, stable and loving. There was even a critical mass of people from her background so she was part of a tight knit community. She didn’t feel “othered” or bullied. Her conclusion was that I wouldn’t find her interesting.
Have we arrived at the moment when our past struggles or traumas frame our identities?
How sad. Have we arrived at the moment when our past struggles or traumas frame our identities? Is uneventful really boring? Or unbelievable? Or odd? Have we crowded out all those lucky people who had good homes and communities? Do we judge those people, like my peer judges herself?
As we discussed it more, my teammate shared her discomfort with personal sharing at work. When people sit around talking about their backgrounds, she sees that people bond over shared difficulties. Since she has no challenges to offer up, she feels left out. She can’t figure out how to connect. I let her know that this conversation gave me tons to think about and that I found her story and observations fascinating. We are now more connected, and it is refreshing to hang out with someone who had such a great childhood.
I think we need to stop glorifying tough stories. Respect, yes. But if we have set up a new hierarchy where life struggles make you more valuable or relatable, we may have over-corrected.
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