Back when I was growing up in Panama I lived a very comfortable life. I was brought up in a bubble and in that bubble I was made believe that we were better than the rest and that some colours shouldn't mix. And it wasn't until my early twenties, when I moved to Europe and experienced discrimination for the first time, that the blindfold was taken off my eyes. Life gave me one of the biggest lessons I would ever receive.
It's funny because being gay and having come out at such a young age you would imagine that I had experienced discrimination all along. But the truth is that, apart from the expected problems with my parents and the occasional bullying at school, my family and my friends were cool with it and it was never an issue at university or later at work either. So the first time that I was made aware that my skin tone mattered, that my features stood out, that my accent spoke more than my words and that the fact that I was making minimum wage working in a computer warehouse apparently defined me as a human being, I had a reality check that changed my life forever.
Discrimination in some societies is taken so much for granted, specially if you are in the privileged position, that people don't even realize that they are discriminating in the first place. We are brought up with fear and rejection to those who are different because of their origin, their race, their social class, their believes or whom they love. And that has made us a paranoid species that lives in constant distrust of their surroundings. We have lost the innocence and the beauty of pure human interaction.
Maybe I am too naive, but interacting with others without taboos nor prejudices, with trust and a open heart, is not only a beautiful experience but it makes you gain so much. You learn, you grow, you expand your horizons and at the same time you teach, you share and you let others grow with you. I don't want to live in a world where every time that I leave home I have to live in fear, paranoia and distrust of those around me. When I meet someone I give myself and my trust a 100% and if they loose my trust along the way that is on them, not on me.
It took me going through a very dark moment almost 20 years ago to learn this very valuable lesson. But it doesn't have to be like that for you. You have the power to take that blindfold off yourself. Life is so much happier without it.
Photo credit: self portrait.
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