In the musical, My Fair Lady, by Alan Jay Lerner, a professor takes on a cockney flower girl as his protégé and gives her speech lessons until she can pass in public society as a lady. And indeed he succeeds. Yet in the end this young woman finds herself caught between two worlds: she no longer fits comfortably in the cockney world she came from (a world she can never fully return to for her speech has forever been altered), but neither does she feel at home in the posh world.
I’ve come to see myself in a similar way, as a “My Fair Lady” of sorts. I would rather be myself, authentic, instead of pretending to believe this or that just to fully fit in on one side or another. But this means sometimes journeying through no man’s land. I will be misunderstood. A lot.
It’s my experience that people don’t ask questions, they just write me off. If they hear I’m a feminist they assume I’m pro-abortion, if they hear I’m an evangelical, they assume I’m anti-LGBTQ+. You get the drift. But I wonder … how many times have I made similar incorrect assumptions about others? See, the only way to really get to know someone is to first resist branding them, and then second, converse, ask questions and look for nuance.
Nuance is the gold found in the in-between, in the so-called desert, in no man’s land. It is where individuality and uniqueness reside. It’s where we must go, if we truly wish to get to know one another.