I haven’t been doing much in my life aside from working, working and working. March has started already. It’s a weird feeling. In a way, it seems like it has come so fast, in another perspective there is so much I am looking forward to that still seems so far away. And that is making me think how slow time has been passing.
Life without the thrill of travelling is boring even almost unbearable to me. I’ve been spending the last weeks planning upcoming trips during my free time and travelling through the pages of books. Travelling to new worlds, different eras or simply through the oceans of knowledge.
I got a chance though to have a glimpse of Amsterdam last February on a work trip. I say a glimpse because that was exactly what it was. I was working full-time (and even over time) but I guess I can’t complain too much. I was there for a Microsoft event and was fortunate to have the opportunity to be a part of a round table discussion on inclusivity and diversity in the workplace. That is bloody interesting and I could only think that everyone who has stayed in the office in London should be there. Everyone from everywhere should be having these conversions and most importantly taking them seriously. Truly reflecting on them and not only participating just to look good on the ethical check radar.
I thought Amsterdam was the perfect place to have this conversation if I’m honest, I fell in love with the city when visiting back in 2017. I wasn’t sure if it was the beauty of the streets, the fact that I had the best fries I can remember of, or even the art, the art that was everywhere, the making of a truly bohemian city. And calling a city to Amsterdam is strange. The definition of city to me entails the lousy, dirty and crowd places of the likes of London. Amsterdam is clean, is quiet, is relaxing and is youthful. Amsterdam was all of that and more – it is the place to live and to let the others live as they wish, in a truly inclusive environment.
From this event, the quote that stood out was how a diverse environment wasn’t necessarily inclusive. To be inclusive is to allow the space for different voices to be heard, different visions to be shared and discussed. Because diversity isn’t inclusion.
We are here talking about different races, different cultures, different sexual orientation, different genders but also about disabilities or even personality types. Discussing how to live and, in this case, to work in a place which feels safe for everyone, and welcomes all.
In the end, we are all human beings, with unique dreams, aspirations and talents but also with unique challenges. And yet, despite belonging to the same species, we so lack empathy so often. EMPATHY. Another big work so often used and misused. I myself so many times feel I suffer from lack of empathy. But how many times I am guilty of lacking it? How many times I felt others problems were not as big or important, they were making a fuss out of nothing, being drama queens? Being empathic with one another is the only way towards peace, better relations and overall a much happier society. How many times I’ve kept my depression, melancholy and dark thoughts to myself knowing no one would care to listen or at least understand? Knowing people will only say “that will pass… at least you have a job, and food, and bla, bla”. Frankly, I even do that to myself.
Incredible how much we still have to learn, how much we need to grow. Being empathetic is not an easy thing, but we improve with practice. I know I have. Many times when I hear someone complaining about something for the millionth time I am complacent. I tell them I understand, and everything will be ok. They can talk about with me. I won’t judge because I know that what for me seems like a small problem, for them it’s big. It’s making them sad. And I, as a fellow human being, have the duty of being there for them.
This is now a big fat ass post. As I said I only got a glimpse of Amsterdam. It was grey, very grey, and cold, very cold. On my last day there I wasn’t having the time of my life. I was having problems at work with people being the opposite of empathetic. And the worst part it was due to the incompetence of others.
And what I kept telling myself was – this is just a job, not you.