Being the only one
‘A Political View’ By Sherry Holliman
When you enter into a room do you look for people that look like you?
Does being the only one matter? When you are the only one in the room it can be very stressful, uncomfortable, and emotionally isolating. Being the only woman, man, black, white, old, or young person does matter. Being the only one is not restricted to race and gender, it can also be extended to handicapped, height, weight, extrovert or introvert. This situation can cause certain individuals to become defensive and not be able to fully concentrate on the event.
When you are the only one of your kind in a room of all the other people it causes the others to create judgment, you draw a larger share of attention which heightened visibility, and your performance, actions, appearance, and culture is scrutinized.
Everything you say and do can be put under a microscope and while you are just an individual person, your individual success or failure can become representative of your larger group, for example, as an individual woman, your success or performance becomes an expectation for what women as a group are capable of, which raises the performance level and leads to stereotyping but when there’s only one woman and she is representing for all women, again that creates gender stereotypes.
Women are often pressured to conform to traditional feminine expectations. When a woman is the only in that situation, she is expected to conform and then when she steps outside those gender lines, she gets a lot of pushback. All of that together can prove it’s a much worse experience when you’re the only one in the room. Being the only one causes both being invisible and seen, you are seen because you are the only one, yet people talk right over you. There is also that assumption that you are not the person that your qualifications determine that you are. In a meeting everybody knows what they’re supposed to be doing and what their roles are but when you are the only one your role or feedback is limited or not acknowledged. Not to mention attending after work functions with colleagues which is worse because people go right back to their social biases.
The experience of being the “only” proves discrimination is real, and people will show you how they feel about you when they are surrounded by their kind.
What is amusing is the fact that no one thinks you notice how they are treating you. Regardless of being the “ONLY” one, you must own your purpose of belonging! The next time you look around the room and you do not see yourself, do not feel displaced.
While it may seem that your efforts are being ignored, it is important to be reminded that you are the only one for a reason and that is to make a difference. Being the only one is accepting the challenge of becoming a trailblazer to create opportunities for others to not be the only one. If you find yourself always being the only one, keep showing up with courage, and your best efforts.
As the only ones are facing numerous challenges, sharing the experience will help society understand who you are, and helping directly address stereotyping. Progress and growth requires change to create change requires being the ‘ONLY’ one sometimes.
Empower yourself with confidence and make that change!
Sherry Holliman is a concerned citizen of Crittenden County and has some views on a variety of topics that she wants to share with her neighbors. She serves on the Marion City Council.