By Em Gates
In life, let alone at university, you are going to meet people that you don’t get on with. It’s a fact that you should deal with as soon as you can, because frankly, if you don’t deal with it, you could lose the people in your life that you do care about. The last thing you want is to start your first job after university and meet someone who is, let’s just say not to your taste, and then act like a child about it and alienate yourself. That is a one-way ticket to a miserable job, a miserable social life, and a general miserable existence.
But there are certain attitudes you can have that combat this sort of situation, and it starts with a big ole thing called ‘tolerance’. And by that I simply mean that you need to take into consideration other people’s circumstances before you run off on your high horse. While first impressions may be important, it’s vital to remember that there is a lot more to people than first meets the eye. And even more so, and as much I hate that I even have to say this, discrimination on any sort of gender, religious, nationality, or sexual preference basis, that is main thing where people slip up. Meeting your girlfriend’s parents and making a Caitlin Jenner joke, only to find out that her brother is trans is a situation no one wants to find themselves in, and yes it may be a nervous coping mechanism, but that one joke is going to be the thing they remember about you.
The main thing to remember is to put yourself into someone else’s shoes. A little bit of respect can go a long way, especially in terms of people you’ve only just met. In the same way I wouldn’t like to be judged for my hair colour, body shape, intelligence, or how much money I have, I’m not going to base my opinion of anyone on who they worship or who they sleep with. And this idea should extend much further than this, from people you vaguely know to your best friend. When you’re telling girls to ‘get back in the kitchen’ or how you think that the civil rights movement is ‘blatantly offensive to white people’, you’re are only thinking about your own life experiences and giving no consideration into what that person may deem to be offensive.
A little bit of tolerance and a whole bunch of respect will get you everywhere in this life, and it is really easy to take action. Be respectful, don’t poke fun at anyone’s appearance, religion, or sexuality, at least not until you’ve worked up a level of mutual banter, and show everyone the same kind of respect that you would like to be treated with. Once you get this sort of attitude on board, the amount of friends you’ll make, and more importantly keep, will grow to more than you could ever imagine. Just as I am touchy about certain aspects of my self, many other people are sensitive about bits of their life which you are not free to comment or judge on. Respect is a two way street, you give it, you receive it.
And most importantly of all, it is important to know that it is ok to slip up. To accidentally say a racist remark to your black friend, to subconsciously call someone a slut, to completely forget about Kosher rules and include bacon in a stir fry with you Jewish friend. These are all bad things, but followed by a sincere and honest apology, well, it’s just a little life lesson that you had to learn. Be respectful, be tolerant, apologise when you’re wrong, and you will get by just fine. It’s got me through the last 20 years, so I don’t see why it can’t work for everyone else.