As human beings, we tend to gravitate toward others who are similar to us. Similar backgrounds. Similar beliefs. Similar values. It’s natural, and it should not be condemned. Can we learn from others who are not like us? Absolutely, and we should. But that doesn’t mean we should feel guilty — or be judged negatively — for choosing to spend our valuable time with those we have commonalities with.

Some call this elitism, selectionism, or even racism. I call it instinctive. And it has nothing to do with the accent of a person’s voice, the origin of a person’s birth, or the color of a person’s skin. Or at least it shouldn’t. But, if we are being honest, it does have a lot to do with a person’s age, income, education and interests. And, mostly, it has to do with having a common culture. 

I had a business partner for a short time several years ago who was smart, creative and talented. Even though we were both Iowans, we grew up much differently. He had never mowed a lawn before. Or shoveled a sidewalk. Or run a vacuum cleaner. We had vastly different perspectives on managing money and how to operate a business. The bottom line was that I needed the business to turn a profit, and he was looking for a hobby. Needless to say, that relationship didn’t work out. Neither one of us were right or wrong, just different. 

When I meet new people, one of the first things I ask them is what their hometowns are. I can usually find a connection from there. When I lived in Nebraska, that was tougher to do, as I was an “outsider.” I had to find other things to connect with these folks on. Ultimately, I learned that if I wanted to fit in, I had to conform. So I bought my family University of Nebraska shirts, and I started reading up on “Big Red” football so I could join in on the conversations. It worked. And even though I had minimal interest in Husker football, I enjoyed getting to know some wonderful people and learning about their other interests. 

So, what’s the message? Wanting to be around people like you is normal, but reaching out beyond your immediate circle is important, too. It doesn’t always work out as planned, but if you want to truly connect, you sometimes have to do something that rarely feels natural — conform. 

Have a terrific Tuesday, and, as always, thank you for reading.

Shane Goodman
Editor and Publisher
Times Vedette digital newsletter