I recently had the privilege of spending five days with three of my coworkers from our library system. We headed to Arkansas for a conference about which we knew very little., but because it dealt with innovation for libraries using an exciting new approach, we were eager to check it out. However, going into something with little understanding of the topic or what’s involved is a bit intimidating.
The conversation in the five-hour van ride was fun and invigorating. Because we’re all at separate locations, there’s few opportunities for in-depth interaction. The time passed quickly, and we settled into our hotel, ready for whatever lay ahead.
The next morning, as we arrived at our training venue, they had us divided into groups, each sitting at a designated table, full of fun hands-on toys like Play-Doh, Silly Putty, spinners, pipe cleaners and lots of maneuverables for restless hands. Before I sat down in my seat, one of my colleagues asked if I could move to the right side, since he was left-handed.
No problem, happy to accommodate.
That’s when I realized it — I was the only right-handed person in our group! How had that happened? I’d become a minority in a world of left-handers.
Throughout our days together we had many a conversation on the life of a left-handed person. I told them about my brother, who was the only left-handed of our five siblings. As I thought about him and watched my coworkers interact in this setting, I realized I’d surrounded myself with artistic, creative, out-of-the-box thinkers who were willing to take challenges and push the limits of what’s possible.
They made me look good!
Our group accomplished our projects, even in times of adversity, with distinction and flare. I watched as they made connections with others in our training and added something new to their thinking as well.
I’ve been a minority before, even for those of you who only see me as having white-girl privilege. I’ve been the only white person in my West African church and choir. I’ve been the only person who could speak another language that was needed in a pinch. I’ve been the only woman contributor to a book dominated by men.
You know what I’ve discovered and been reminded of during my left-handed week?
I like being odd man out.
It reminds me that uniqueness can be a blessing. It also helps me to learn new things from a completely different point of view. Finally, it helps me develop empathy for those who struggle due to differences or who live as odd man out on a daily basis.
I learned some things from our conference, but I learned a lot from my left-handed friends.
Are you distressed by being odd man out in life? See what you can learn from the “majority” and find ways to shine and contribute through your uniqueness.
I will praise you because I have been remarkably and wondrously made. Your works are wondrous, and I know this very well.*
Grace and Peace
*Psalm 139:14 CSB