Being different (at work)

Jan 4, 2019

Being different (at work)

I was chatting with a colleague who shared about some concerns of her child.
At some point she said,
‘We both come from the similar cultures.
You know what I mean right?
I tell my children,
we are not the local people.
We have to work 10 times better than the locals to get the same position.
Look around,
how many people do you see who are like us?’

I somehow understand her feelings.
With a passport or not,
we are from time to time reminded that
‘this is not where I am from.’
There are differences as one lives as a majority or a minority in the society.

I sometimes forget I work in a different country.
At other times, feelings of otherness do creep in subtly.
It is even harder as I do look so different from the locals.
In the mental health system,
I constantly recognize struggles of stigma and difference are not just for patients to bear.
Professionals do too.
It is hard to be the different other.
No one deserves to feel isolated, minimized, unfairly treated.

The point is,
we do not normalize these struggles.
It can be a learning as we relate our experiences with the patients.
Attend to their suffering as they have been stuck in the mental health institution for years.
Even they do not say it, or they are not even aware of what the suffering means.

Show kindness and support to one another.
Even the strongest profession needs a good supportive team.
No strong team lasts without real care and support between one and another.
The key to difference is never about eradicating differences.
Respect and connection build relationships.

Credit: KenL

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