The search for diverse friends

diversity

There are so many things that I want to teach Harley, but I know not all of it can come from the words I speak to her or the actions she mimics. Some of it has to be experienced. One of those things that I think is really important for her to learn is that there’s no reason to discriminate against anyone based on their race, religion or sexual orientation. Awesome people and assholes can belong to any grouping – there are simply a range of people out there and you have to get to know them before you can make any conclusions about them; it can’t be done based on stereotypes.

Over the years, I’ve lived in many different countries and had friends from a variety of backgrounds. As a kid, I honestly didn’t even see race, with it needing to be pointed out to me years later that my first crush was on a dark skinned boy, or that I was raised with a different religion to my classmates. I’d like for Harley to also experience that diversity, and my plan to send her to international schools will definitely help with that. However, I also need to make some more diverse friends for our kids to play together before then… but it’s kind of an awkward task.

I am slow to build friendships. Okay, that’s not entirely true. I’ll make friends quite quickly, but I don’t let those people into my inner circle easily. It takes a while before I start meeting up with people individually, inviting them over to my house, going to theirs or going out to places together. In a group setting, I easily chat to tons of people. But exchanging details and actually making plans and following up on them? That takes time.

Having lived in South Africa for about 8 years now (where did the time go?!), I’ve made some great friends. I have wonderful people in my life from a variety of backgrounds. Some of them are religious, most aren’t. Some of them belong to other ethnicities, most don’t. And I’d like to make more diverse friends; I’d love to have Harley grow up seeing faces of all colors, understanding that some of those people pray to different deities and some don’t pray at all, that wonderful friends can be found in all kinds of places and have all kinds of personalities and backgrounds.

But making those friends myself? It seems to be harder than I thought. I simply don’t have enough social interaction with new people. I try to put myself in situations where I’ll meet new people, but usually it’s a lot of the same faces on repeat. When I do meet new people that I like, I generally wait for several meetings before asking to exchange details, before meeting up for coffee or whatever.

I suppose that’s okay. I can continue to take my time and grow friendships organically. My desire for more diversity can’t change my natural and slow way of building real connections with people. It will come… it’s not like I should join a Tinder for friends site, right?

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  • Tinder for friends, lol. The diverse friends thing is tricky, but I figure as long we don’t let our kids grow up just seeing pale folks it helps some. All we can do is equip them to recognise great friends, the rest will be up to them.

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