I was sitting in a coffee shop daydreaming and minding my own business, but somehow I overheard someone say, “I only like to be surrounded by like-minded people.” This comment was made a few days ago, but for some reason (maybe the attitude behind it) it has stuck with me. I know it should be pretty self-explanatory, but I still wonder what that person meant. To be thorough, and just to get it out of my head, I looked online on The Free Dictionary for the meaning of the word and this is what I found:
agreeing in opinions, goals, etc.
Not to make too fine a point of it, but being surrounded by like-minded people all the time is my personal definition of Hell.
From a writers’ standpoint, if I surround myself only with people who think the same way that I do, from where do I pull the color and the human interest for my stories? Certainly not from people just like me. I want to write about people that are braver and darker and more-worldly than me.
From the standpoint of a daughter, sister, etc., if I were concerned with surrounding myself with only people like me, I wouldn’t have a family. My father is Republican and also a Christian, both things that I admire greatly, but that do not fit my world view by any stretch. I spent the better part of my teenage years driving my family crazy with my demands to be Vegetarian, and have driven certain family members to drink with my choice to tattoo myself in my young adulthood. Family is tricky, and no one family member fits into the tiny box like-mindedness requires, and thank goodness for that. I love the random mix of people that I am proud to call my family, and I would hope that they feel the same.
As a person, I would go so far as to say that I go out of my way to seek out people who’s world views differ from my own. I am fascinated with what other people think and with what has influenced them to reach those conclusions. I recently was accepted to sit on an editorial board for our local newspaper, and I have been thrilled with the experience so far. The variety of topics we discuss and the amount of knowledge that each of my fellow members possess is exhilarating to me. The best part of it is that we don’t always agree with each other, but we are still respectful of each others’ opinions.
Perhaps these are the reasons why the random woman’s flippant comment bothered me so much that it stuck in my brain, or maybe it is because I can see what she doesn’t – no one person has the same influences and experiences as another, so in essence there is no such thing as a like-minded person.