One thing I’ve observed lately is that many of us are clones. Take a few moments to think about who you surround yourself with every day. For us working ladies, think of your co-workers. Or think of your classmates, roommates, or in other words, who are your “besties?” Go ahead, think for a minute.

Who are these people? What do you have in common? What are your interests? What do you actually talk about? What do you do together and how often?

Now, let me ask you something else.

Where do you differ in opinion? What are your conflicts about? Wait, do you even have conflict? Maybe you do have conflicts, and maybe you don’t really experience that in your relationships. If you don’t, you just may be a clone.

What exactly do I mean by “clone?” First of all, I can’t stand those creepy Sci-Fi movies with people wrapped up in fluid-filled bubbles with veins and creepy music filling the atmosphere as aliens or mad scientists try to replicate humans for their own purposes. That is not what I mean at all. I’m referring to a clone as someone who is pretty much the same as someone else. I’m also not talking about physical differences; I’m talking about differences in interests, talents, gifts, goals, and aspirations in life.

I’m asking you to think about this because it’s significant. You ultimately will become like those you surround yourself with. Look at your peers. Do they have the same goals as you? Do they have the kind of relationships you want to be part of? Here’s another question. Do they help you to expand your heart and mind? Do they help you become a better person?

Although being around like-minded people can be a very positive thing, from my own experience, you can’t improve and grow personally without resistance and some sort of conflict. Conflict helps us smooth out our rough edges. Resistance through weight training and physical exercise makes our bodies stronger, resilient, healthier, and let’s face it, a lot more attractive than if we didn’t work out.  Similarly, being with people who are different from us helps us to gain new perspectives and opens our hearts to see new needs that we weren’t aware of before.

“As iron sharpens iron, so one man sharpens another.”

Iron doesn’t get smoothed out by being with other dull pieces of iron. Iron becomes sharp when it is rubbed against a file, whetstone, and sandpaper that tears off the parts that don’t belong.

I’ve experienced this in my own life. I’m in a stage of life where it’s easy to break off into specific groups of people by life stage. Your 20s will do that to you, and part of it is natural. However, I’ve witnessed some groups cling to one another, and almost shut out others who used to be in their life, but no longer fit. It breaks my heart that people who were once so close can simply “move on” just because one gets married before the other, or one becomes a mom sooner than the other. When that happens, we risk putting ourselves in a bubble, thinking we are so happy and safe with our clone friends. In reality, I think that we are really missing out on a lot of cool opportunities when this happens.

Diversity in opinion, style, education levels and hobbies opens the door for us to discover new things about ourselves and even opportunities we would never be exposed to otherwise. Being with people who aren’t exactly like us sharpens and challenges our minds to take some of our thoughts off of ourselves, and helps us see the world from a new perspective.

What I’m not advocating for is to embrace destructive lifestyles just because they are different than yours. I’m not saying that at all. Letting people into our lives requires wisdom. When we look at the life of Jesus, he was surrounded by diversity wherever he went. His own disciples were incredibly diverse, yet somehow fishermen, tax collectors, carpenters and even doctors were able to come together, learn from one another, and do life together.

Think about your own life again. What stage are you in? Think of the people you know that you really do want to become like. It’s not possible to reach our big dreams if we limit ourselves by the choice in people we are with. I want to challenge you to reach out to someone this week. Maybe it’s an old friend. Maybe it’s someone new in your life. Open up yourself to bring in new friends into your circle rather than closing it off. Do it and see what happens.

Be who you were created to be. We were all created to be different- a masterpiece. Don’t try to blend in with everyone who is like you. Don’t make yourself a clone.