Would I be crazy to say finding people like ourselves is pretty convenient, daresay easy? Our own leanings often bring us to people who look like us, talk like us, and think like us; it truly feels right in the world when we can find those special people who make us feel like we are talking to the person in the mirror. We are naturally self-indulgent beings who love ourselves.
So what about the people who are the opposite of the manner in which we look, speak, and think? Do we simply avoid them like the plague?
I think there’s something more. Sometimes it’s the ones who are the most antithetical to us that allow us to experience growth. While we may still progress in maturity loving people like ourselves, might we consider another prospect? What if we were to walk in sacrificial friendship with those who are the opposite of us in spite of the possible inconvenience they might present?
Coming out of high school it was miserable to deal with anyone who procrastinated or did not have a sensitivity for other people’s feelings. I would emotionally implode and become frustrated over the lack of similarity of beliefs and values. However, after much thought, something switched; what happened next in process was profound. I began to empathize with these different people’s perspectives and sought to understand the world through the eyes of the antithetical person in front of me; in short, I began to grow.
While I can’t convince you to seek out those who are antithetical in nature, I can present a few reasons for why you could benefit from walking in committed friendship with the aforementioned:
1. They allow us to grow where we are weak: people who are antithetical are just that, antithetical. In many ways they are our complete opposite. But get this: where you might be lacking the antithetical friend may be gifted; where you are insufficient they may be more than sufficient. The antithetical friend allows us to see our weaknesses for what they are and, in best case scenario, teach us how to strengthen these same weaknesses.
2. They cultivate our perspective and empathy: just like in my case where I was utterly confused and frustrated at someone’s lack of sensitivity to the people around them, we can gain perspective and empathy from the antithetical friend. As we seek understanding of a person’s point of view we begin to develop a greater empathy and oversight for where other people different from ourselves may operate. This allows us to better function with future coworkers, employees, and significant others.
3. They grow our capacity for long suffering: let’s face it, being with someone who is different from you is tough and rather inconvenient. From what I hear about marriage, the reality formerly mentioned often becomes an issue. But what I also hear about marriage is that long suffering and a propensity towards patience are also developed out of a place of having to persevere through various, differing issues. In the same way the antithetical friend’s differing nature compels us to move toward solution, not out of convenience, but a perseverance towards wonderful harmony and friendship.
A bit of a tough message, but I think all the more necessary for us to recognize the opposite personalities in our lives; how much we can learn from someone who is antithetical in nature!