An unconventional solution seldom comes from a conventional mind.
To serve as a catalyst for change, one has to look beyond convention and tradition, past their limitations, in order to not only visualize what may be possible, but also to risk the failures, and subsequent ridicule, initiative outside the familiar boxes requires.
To serve as a catalyst for positive change requires even more risk in a world dominated by negative thinking and actions.
Personally, from childhood I did not realize how different I was and am from the majority of people. What was misleading was that I did “look” the same as the majority in Canada when I was born in 1955 in small town southwestern Ontario and still do living in the greater Toronto area. But, as we can learn with aging, things and people are not always as they appear to be or as we expect or even want them to be.
What I did know about were the challenges I faced that many others did not appear to experience … the social awkwardness, the extreme boredom with the traditional verbal education system, the distaste for gossip, the desire to instead talk about the bigger picture and the frustration at not knowing others in my circles who wanted to do the same, and most importantly, the ire that rose up in me when people were being treated unkindly, even abused, and often the unexpected negative consequences experienced when I helped … or tried to help.
Now, I was no saint. In fact, for several reasons, I eventually embraced the negative side of life and became quite bullish to protect myself and to even payback pain inflicted, directly or at other people who had nothing to do with the matters.
Regardless, what struck me more than any verbal or physical assaults was a mindset I just did not fathom … prejudice. And my experiences compelled me to further wonder why would people be against other people without even knowing them, especially when the people they knew in their social circles were hurting them. This reasoning, as well as my experiences, served as a catalyst for my connecting with strangers more readily than most people.
Did I always make the best choices? No, but I did learn a lot about people in diverse demographics … from the poorest to the richest, from the workers to the owners, from the talkers to the doers, from the conservatives to the liberals, from the meanest to the kindest, and from the most dangerous to the most empowering.
And the consequence was my determination to discover who I really was, to reclaim my identity, and to continuously develop my unique blend of talent and perspective for the greater good … exposing prejudice in all its shapes and forms for what prejudice is … fear … in order to empower people to live boldly, to trust rather than fear, especially irrationally, to respect … value each other and life, with the recognition life without trust and risk is a small contained life that breeds and feeds all things dark and small.
As for my history, my Catholic upbringing in a small southwestern town dominated by farming and industry, was impacted by the black individuals and families who ventured the Underground Railway to freedom just eleven miles north of our Lord Selkirk settled Scottish community named after William Wallace, Wallaceburg. To the east of the town, the farming community relied on the community of immigrant workers and six miles south lay Walpole Island, the Native American reserve.
The eldest granddaughter and the eldest in our family, I was also seen as mature at a young age additionally because of my height. When I should have been pursuing the athletics I inherently excelled at and the intellect for academics I also inherently excelled at, because of my lack of understanding about myself and talents and the experiences I encountered I naively opted for hanging with older people.
The result, a grade ten high school drop-out, married at sixteen, and no, not pregnant, who saw no other way out from her circumstances than the protection and provision of a charming, handsome husband.
Wrong about people again. Worse than what I had left for meant leaving with nothing, not even a high school education. Good news was I learned the valuable lesson of getting to know someone better before jumping into another relationship or marriage. The great news was, as I went to work for retailers, suddenly not only was I being hired, I was quickly being promoted and by my early twenties was an assistant manager for a fairly large department store. A similar thing happened when I left the department store to work in a retail food market. But like always for me, doing the same thing over and over bored me, so I took on another job teaching aerobics, then was appointed area supervisor. Finally, when the chartered accountant I worked with for the business’s year-end suggested I go to school to become an accountant it finally began to sink in … there was much more to me than what I had become convinced of from my previous years’ experience.
Hungry not only for change, but also for gratifying change, I acquired my Grade 12 Equivalency and off to a private college I went, where I not only achieved Honors in Business Administration, but also the Chi-Eta Scholarship for Outstanding Student Cooperation selected by the faculty, while additionally serving as the editor of the school newsletter. An educational board game developed by a team of my classmates and me also received formal recognition for our project. And, not surprisingly, our small class all achieved Honors status because of how we worked well collaboratively and inspired each other individually to rise to our potential.
More to come …
Revised October 27, 2017
Kaitlin Ann Trepanier, founder and president of Connecting the Dots … with The Respect Principle, the company dedicated to raising Respect Levels for the benefit of all people by developing and delivering books, products, and services that entertain, educate, and inspire positive change.