Expand Your Bubble

I’m writing today about Bubbles.

Not these bubbles:

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Or even these bubbles:

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No, I’m talking about the kind of bubbles we find ourselves in every day. Generational. Community. Geographic.

Generational

How many people are friends with people older or younger than them? Not like, casual friends on Facebook or Twitter friends. Actual friends. The ones that gather together to celebrate milestones, grieve over losses, or even just meet up for happy hour after a stressful day at work.

I have been truly blessed in life to know many people both younger and older than I. I grew up as the baby of the family. My sisters are 5 and 10 years older than I am. As somewhat of an outsider and loner growing up, the main people I interacted with were either way younger or way older than me. I used to come in early to talk to my teachers about the articles I read in the newspaper as I ate my breakfast. People constantly call me an old lady stuck in a young person’s body.

That’s what happens when you’re forced to grow up early.

Some of the biggest influences on me growing up were from camp counselors, youth group leaders, coaches, and teachers. I got a lot of wisdom and counseling in my teenaged years from these amazing people. I wouldn’t be who I am today without their guidance. I know I would be much more narrow-minded, probably bitter, and less inquisitive.

Some people never branch out. They don’t do extracurricular activities. They don’t talk to people older than them. They don’t put themselves in situations where they have to talk to other people.

They are missing out. 

This is one reason why networking and mentoring are so important at work. You’re forced to work with people outside your comfort zone, and that’s a good thing. You not only need to be able to work with people who are different from you, but you can learn a lot from them while you do.

I’m taking part in a “reverse mentoring” group. One of the Vice Presidents of MegaCorp set up a meeting with a bunch of Millennials from the office. He knows we have a lot of thoughts, feelings, and ideas about what is happening in our office, and he wants to know what they are. He’s reaching out to us so he can learn. As a Millennial, I think he’s smart for doing so lol. We have a lot to offer. I have friends in other companies that aren’t doing something like this, and they complain all the time how their office environment isn’t conducive to them and how they work. My VP might not implement everything we say, but at least the door is open for communication. That’s a damn good start.

Community 

Another bubble out there is community. I’m definitely guilty of this one. How often do we seek out people who are similar to us? Race, hobbies, income levels, etc. I have a friend who moved to a fancy neighborhood full of McMansions because she didn’t like the way her old neighborhood was going. Because her new neighbors weren’t like her. Is she a terrible person for doing so?

No.

She just listens to the fear mongers among us about people who are different than we are. She is, however, missing out on teaching some valuable life lessons to her children about empathy, patience, kindness, and cross cultural awareness. How do you teach your children to be kind and understanding to others who are different than they are, when everyone they know is exactly like them? My sister moved to a neighborhood that has a rep as being not the greatest two years ago. You know what’s happened to them since they did? Nothing. She’s made friends with the neighbors (or at least does the hand up wave as they drive or walk past) and been able to answer a ton of questions from my niece about them. How would she have learned about other people if they weren’t smack dab in the middle of everything? A good example of this is from Justin over at RootofGood. He wrote a related post on gentrification.

A while back I was involved in a fabulous Twitter conversation. I mean, I have many fabulous Twitter conversations, but this one sticks out to me. In it, one of my fellow bloggers was trying to decide if she wanted to become a financial mentor to at-risk women. I immediately told her to do it. These women are in shelters for one reason or another and have recently gone through a budgeting/beginner finance class. I told my blogger friend to do it because she has a chance to make a real, immediate, huge impact on someone’s life. Often, women in these situations have never had to handle money or haven’t had positive influences to model after. She can be that person. She can show those women the importance of saving, be there to cheer on her positive changes, and celebrate when she gets her money under control.

It’s incredibly difficult to be different.

Especially as it relates to saving in a consumer based economy like ours. It is huge to have people celebrate your milestones instead of try to take advantage of you or mock you for your decisions. I encourage you to step out of your normal bubble and routine. Try something different. See what happens!

Geographic

I’ve lived my entire life in the Midwest. I know how things work around here. What I don’t know is how people live their lives in other areas of the country, and other areas of the world. I don’t want to say something offensive to someone because I simply didn’t know any better. It’s better to say something out of ignorance than malice, but it’s still not great.

Ever since I started traveling, I have expanded my worldview. My basic tenets of how I thought the world worked have been challenged. I say something, and someone asks me “Why do you think that?” instead of, “Mmhmm, I agree.” It’s forced me to think. Oftentimes, my answer is “I don’t know” or “because that’s the way I’ve always done it”.

What would I do if I didn’t have a car? What would I do if I had to wait 3 months for the store to deliver my mattress? What would I do if I have a small fridge, no sprawling supermarket, and a fresh market down the road? How would I live if I didn’t live in an 1100+ sq ft apartment?

I don’t know. I don’t know how I would react to those situations. But I want to find out. I didn’t even know there were situations like that around the world. But there are.

I am a much better person for exploring the world and expanding the bubbles I live in. My only wish is for everyone else to have the opportunity to do the same.

 
What bubbles are you in? How have you challenged your world around you lately?

 

16 thoughts on “Expand Your Bubble

  1. Very timely post. I recently joined a local meetup called “Lazy Ass Hikers” and it’s been a lot of fun. Fun because it’s FREE, but al because of the people. I’ve met a cancer survivor, a paper packaging sales guy, a nursing student, a doctor, an air force reservist and d a guy who I’m not sure what he does, but he drives a white commercial van. I’m curious if he lives in it.

    I don’t know how many things this eclectic group might have in common, but I do know that we all want to get outside and exercise regardless of our age or race or whatever. I feel like the “Lazy ass” is a misnomer, some of these guys have done some pretty epic hikes. 😀
    TJ recently posted…Demystifying the Tax BracketsMy Profile

  2. I second the benefits of being friends with people older and younger than you! Such friendships have improved my life greatly. This was not always the case for me though. I remember when I first started dating my fiancé, he told me to meet him at our cafeteria so he could introduce me to his friends. I walked in around lunchtime and saw him sitting with “two old guys” (sigh 22 year-old me). I thought there is no way those could be his friends – they’re probably his bosses – and I should steer clear so he could have lunch with them. Later, he was like Hey! You totally ignored me at lunch! I was telling everyone about my new girlfriend and then you walked away from us – They thought I was making you up! Oops!!! I’ve come along way since then.
    Julie @ Millennial Boss recently posted…The Secret FIRE Cult – And Why You’ll Want to Join ItMy Profile

  3. Living overseas really helped show me other viewpoints and ways of doing things. All the little things that are different. And how some are rather clever, and some are just a product of culture. But it stretched the way I looked at daily tasks, social interactions, and cultural norms.
    Ms. Montana recently posted…October ExpensesMy Profile

  4. Thanks for the reminder to keep growing and improving. I’m not a very social person so my bubbles are pretty damn small to begin with. I need to be better about increasing my bubbles and diversifying my experiences in them.

    We can all do better. 🙂

  5. That’s one of my favorite parts of living in a gentrifying area. I meet a ton of other people that aren’t wealthy educated 30-something white males like me. It makes my “reality” very different from the reality of those that live in a more homogeneous community.

    I recently visited my in-laws out in the suburbs (4000 sf homes; hardly a single non-white in sight other than my in-laws). Very different vibe from what I’m used to. Also intriguing to talk to some random strangers there about what life is like “in the city” (Raleigh isn’t a huge city). We had numerous strange comments like “oh hey, do you guys speak Spanish?” then the lady’s husband said “no honey, they are Korean!”. Like WTF – where did Korean come from specifically? Another guy was talking about his multi-cultural coworkers (“of course I work in the city so I guess there are a lot of Asians there huh?”).

    Nothing offensive, just bizarre what kind of different “bubble” these people live in from what I see around me every day (people of all races, religions, ages, ethnicities, linguistic backgrounds, etc). A great example is the Asian storyteller at the library. I noticed she spoke fluent Spanish. Turns out her parents moved the family to Argentina when she was four so she spoke Spanish growing up.
    Justin recently posted…October 2016 Financial UpdateMy Profile

    • I don’t want to say stuff like that. I want to be better than that. If you guys weren’t so easy going, that could totally have been taken a different way or turned out very differently.

  6. Love this, Gwen! We have some really close friends that are almost 20 years older than us. And I just happened to meet a great new friend today that’s a bit younger than I 🙂 . I think traveling with the kids over the years has helped to expand all of our bubbles in a very good way.

    It’s easy to create bubbles and not even realize it. But it’s important to challenge ourselves to step out of our norms – sometimes it’s uncomfortable at first, but this is when we learn and grow.

    • Words of wisdom! Then again I expect no less from you, since you know you’ve been around longer than me to accumulate it lol 😀

  7. Hi Gwen, great post! I think that’s important to expand your bubble in live and broaden your horizons a bit. It hasn’t come natural to me at all, but I’ve managed to expand Mr t bubble by taking on numerous mentors and my wife and I have also taken the leap of faith of moving across the country twice. And as you may know, we are now thinking about making a move to the UK for work which will really expand our bubble. It’ll be nerve wracking but quite a memorable life experience.

    Thanks for the great message!
    The Green Swan recently posted…Minimalism: The Urge to PurgeMy Profile

    • I would love to expand my bubble by moving to a new continent! That would be the best ever! Thanks for commenting 🙂

    • Thanks for commenting. I love to meet new people. How will I have empathy for people if I don’t know what they’re going through or have been through?

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